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CHRIST. Bj the Rev. Vather DlPON, d[ the Order 

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JESUS CHRIST By the Rev. Father DlDON, of 
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Aubrey de Vere 

Who welcomed my first effort to trace the work 
of Christ in the single human soul^ and year after 
year has cheered me with a mind which knows^ 
and a heart which feels^ the scope of the task 
pursued by me^ I offer this last attempt to mark 
the completed fabric of the Divine Kingdom, 
when the voice of Peter ^ which received Cornelius^ 
gathered Christendom together in the 



I HAVE followed in this volume the sources of history, as far 
as possible, by transcribing the words of those who wit- 
nessed the acts which they record. Herein I hold that no 
historical testimony equals in value the official authentic 
records of the Holy See in the government of the Christian 
kingdom and commonwealth. Therefore, the great collec- 
tion of Mansi, in 3 1 vols, folio, stands first in the rank of 
those whom I have consulted. 

S. AthaNASIUS, pios Koi TToXirfto Tov (V iyioii irarpos ^fiSiv 

St. Gregory, Bishop of Tours, father of Frank liistory. 
Bede's ^^Historia EccUsiastica Gent is Anglorum.*' 
Mabillon, " Acta Sanctorum Ordinis >S'. Benedicti^ in satcularum 

classes distrihuta" 9 vols. fol. 
" The KuU of our Most Holy Father St. Benedict," by a Monk of St. 

Benedict's Abbey, Fort Augustus, 1 890. 
Cardinal Hergenrother's *^ Ilundbuch der allgemeinen Kirchenge- 

schichte" 3 vols. 
Uefkle's " Conciliengesdiichte" 7 vols. 
MoNTALVMBBRT, " Les Moines d^Occident,^ 7 vols. 
OzANAM, " La Civilisation au Cinquikme Siicle" 2 vols., and " Etudes 

GermaniqtleSf*' 2 vols. 
GoDEFROiD KuRTH, *^ Histoire Poetique des Merovinfjiens^^ '893« 
'^L'Eglise et la Science" by R. P. Ch. de Smedt, S.J., 1877. 
Mohler's " Geschichte des Mdnchthums in der Zei't seiner Enstehung 

und ersten Ausbildung" edited by DoUinger, Regensburg, 1839. 
"jSf. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland " Rev. W. B. Morris, 1890. 
Bbllesheim, Dr. A., " Qeschichte der katholischen Kirche in Ireland" 

3 vols. 
Aubrey de Verb, ^* Legends and Records" ^^ Legends of the Saxon 
Saints," " St, Peter^s Chains," « Legends of St. Patrick." 

To three of these authors I wish to record my special 
obligations. I have had ever before me Montalembert's 



great work, on which that fervent lover of all that is gooc 1 
and noble spent so many years of his life. In St. Bede ys 
History I have found such authentic testimony to the birtlji 
of a Christian people as does not exist in the annals of 
any other nation for the first generation of its faith. From 
Aubrey de Vere, in his " Legends of St Patrick," I first 
learnt the unapproachable grandeur of that saint as a con- 
verter, whose single life compassed the delivery of a nation 
from ancestral paganism to the Christian faith, with its fall 
dowry of the Monastic Life. 


• b 







The mom^it of the Church's first triumph at the Council of Nicsea i 

Foundation of the first monastery hy Fachomius on the Nile i 

Its hierarchical form of arrangement 2- 

A convent of nuns under the sister of Fachomius .... 2 

Conditions for entering this monastic life ' 3 

Antony, the first patriarch of monks, precedes Fachomius by forty 

year^ 4 

St. Athanasius composes the Life of Antony 4 

Having been his disciple and ^ell acquainted with his manners . 4 

The youth of Antony spent in a Christian home 5 

His life when left an orphan at eighteen with an only sister . 5 
The first fourteen years of* Antony's ascetic life from twenty-one to 

thirty-five 6 

He retires by himself to a deserted castle for twenty years . . 7 
After twenty years of solitary life he comes forth at the call of 

men 8 

Monasteries in the desert founded by his example .... 8 

Antony at fifty-five years of age appears as a leader of men 9 

A sermon g^ven by him in Egyptian translated into Greek 9 

Time and eternity, earth and heaveii 10 

The kingdom of heaven is within 12 

The soul created intelligent and good 12 

The number and power of our enemies the demons • 13 

They were created good . . *". 13 

Their devices and appearances against us 14 

Our Lord's coming took away their power 16 

The deyil received from God his power to afflict Job . .18 

The demons dread the ascetic life 18 

They pretend to foretell, but are Incapable of foreseeing, the future 19 

Parity of heart gives true knowledge 20 

Joy attends on the presence of good spirits, disturbance on that of 

evil 21 

The power of working signs not to be sought for 22 

Antony's own experience of demons 23 



The devirs reproach and Antony's answer 

Demons become to us sach as thej find us in ourselves ... 35 

Always to demand of the demon who he is 25 

Monasteries created by the effect of Antony's words . -[36 

Increased severity of Antony's life in his own monastery ... 26 

Antony at Alexandria in the persecution of Maziminus ... 26 

His dress and mode of life on his return 27 

A great number healed outside his monastery 28 

He retires three days' journey to a mountain in the desert . 28 
Lives alone in the "inn^r mountain," and cultivates a garden for his 

support 29 

Is attacked by phantoms of wild beasts and demons .... 29 

Saves his company from perishing by thirst 30 

His injunction to write down privately one's faults .... 31 

Heals Fronto by sending him away 32 

Sends water to a perishing brother at a distance • • • • 33 

Sees the soul of Ammon carried to heaven in triumph • • • 34 

Heals the malady of a nun at Laodicea 35 

Has revealed to him the needs of those who come to him • • • 35 
Has a vision of his soul encountering ** the powers of the air " . -36 

Antony's deference to every ecclesiastic 38 

His own countenance attracted to him those who approached . . 38 

His abomination of heresy, especially Arianism 39 

The great reverence paid to him at Alexandria when Atbanasius was 

patriarch ... 39 

He delivers a possessed child by the name of Christ in the presence 

of the patriarch 40 

He foils philosophers 40 

He contrasts Christian truths with the impure fables of their gods . 41 
Deems the action of faith superior to sophistical arguments . . 41 
The cross of Christ annulling oracles, enchantments, and magic . 43 
Antony delivers possessed men by the sign of the cross in the pre- 
sence of philosophers 44 

Constantine and his sons write to him as a father .... 45 

Antony returns to his accustomed life in the " inner mountain " . 46 
Sees in vision the Arian profanations in Egypt two years before they 

happen . . . 46 

The promise of Christ ensures the happening of miracles ... 47 
Antony healed not by commanding, but by praying and naming 

Christ 47 

He foretells the death of the persecuting Duke Balacius ... 48 

His effect upon all classes of men 49 

Antony's last words to his monks 50 

He absolutely forbids keeping his body unburied, in censure of 

Egyptian custom . . . ' 50 

His injunctions to the two monks to bury him secretly . . -Si 

He gives his two sheepskins to the Bishops Athanasius and Serapion 52 
He expires with great joy derived from the presence of those who 

come to meet him . • 52 



Antony died in perfect soundness of body and mind, a hundred and 
five years old, living in a mountain and yet known to all the 
world 52 

The parting words of Athanasiua 53 



The death of St. Antony in 356 when the life of St. Athanasius was 

in danger from the attack of the Duke Syrianus .... 54 
He was commissioned by the Emperor Constantius to seize the 

patriarch in his church 54 

When the Life was published in 365 Athanasius had been thirty-seven 

years patriarch of Alexandria, and the most renowned confessor 55 
This life worked a great number of conversions and had troops of 

imitators 56 

Termed by St. Gregory Kazianzcn *'a code of the monastic life in 

the fonn of a narrative " 56 

So by St. Chrysostom and by Mohler in our own day .... 56 
Bearing of St. Antonyms life on that of St. Athanasius ... 58 
Who carries to Rome in 340 the knowledge of this life of the Desert 

Fathers, with two of their number 59 

St. Jerome's account of the effect produced at Rome by the presence 

and teaching of Athanasius and his companions .... 59 
Testimony of St. Augustine in 388 to the regular life of both sexes 

in the Italian cities 60 

His institution in his own episcopal house 64 

St. Jerome's praise of F&mmachius, first noble of Rome and com- 
mander-in-chief of the monks 65 

St. Basil's narrative of his own conversion, and the monks of Egypt, 

Palestine, and Mesopotamia 65 

He introduces monastic life in Pontus and Cappadocia ... 67 

Hi.s own picture of ascetic training 67-70 

And what the demeanour of a monk should be . . . 70-72 

The Basilicas which he raised in his episcopal city, Oiesarea . . 72 
St. Basil and St. Gregory encountered Julian the Apostate at the 

university of Athens 74 

St. Gregory of Nyssa makes virginity the special beauty of the Divine 

Nature 74 

St. Chrysostom compares the king with the monk . 77-83 

St. Ambrose quotes to his sister her reception as a nun in St. Peter's 

by Pope Liberius of blessed memory in 362 83 

Emphatic commendation of Pope Liberius by his four contemporaries, 

Ambrose, Basil, Epiphanius, and Siricius 85 

St. Martin, founder of monasteries and example of the monastic life 

in Gaul 85 



His house at Marmoutier the nursery of monks who become bishops 87 
In seventy years from the founding of the first monastery by Pacho- 

mins, the monastic institute is planted in both sexes from 

Palestine to Gaul ^ 

St. Basil, St. Augustine, St. Benedict, the great promoters of the 

Common Life '90 

Which was developed when the Church most needed it . . .90 
That the delivery from heathen persecution might be counterpoised 

by purity of conduct in union with strength of belief ... 91 



The time of the fourth century for the Roman Empire, hidden then, 

revealed now 92 

The seasonablcness with which the Fathers advocated monastic life 93 

How the life of Antony attracted the example of Hilarion • • • 95 

St. Basil finds Syrian and Mesopotamian monasteries well founded . 96 

Sets himself to draw a monastic rule 96 

The vast difference between an individual ascetic and an ascetic house 97 

The coenobitic life rapidly prevails over the solitary life ... 97 

The greatest Fathers of the East and West active in introducing it . 98 

The monastery of Lerins and its great work 99 

The Sees which accepted their bishops from Lerins .... 100 

St. Csesarius and his monastery at Aries 10 1 

Cassian and monastic life at Marseilles 102 

Cassian finds no one rule established in Eastern monasteries . . 102 

-Quick spread of the monastic life amid much opposition . . . 102 

Contribution of this life to ecclesiastical learning in the Fathers . 103 

It educates and supplies to the Church the worthiest bishops . . 104 

St. Martin founding Marmoutier 106 

The founding of Condat 107 

Character of the monks as bishops 108 

The course of the empire from Constantino's sole monarchy in 323 . 109 
First division at his death in 337 between Constantino, Constans, and 

Constantius no 

By the death of both brothers Constantino in 350 becomes sole em- 
peror, and attempts to force the bishops into Arian doctrine . no 
At Valentinian^s accession in 364 East and West become permanently 

distinct in their administration no 

Great deterioration of the empire and tyranny of Valens over Catholics 

in the East 1 1 1 

Death of Valentinian in 375, and of Valens in 378, causes Theodosius 

to become emperor in the East 112 

Theodosius during fifteen years suspends the fate of the empire, 

which collapses at his death 113 



In the fifth century the Western Empire became the prej of Northern 

barbarians, who were likewise Arian heretics . . • ii3 

The Western Empire a course of perpetual dissohition from Const an- 

tine to Theodoric's death in 526 114 

The course of the Church from the Nicene Council in 328 a new era 

marked by four great developments 1 14 

Development of conciliar action elucidating the doctrine of the In- 
carnation 116 

Efflorescence of Christian literature during this conciliar action . 116 
Growth of government keeps pace ^ath expansion of learning and 

consolidation of doctrine 117 

Leo fixes Christian doctrine, and the Western Empire is abolished . 118 
The position of the Pope at the abolition of the empire • . .118 
The Arian schism mastered bv Popes under hostile domination, and 
the infallibility of the Church proclaimed by the East to rest on 

the Papal See 119 

The rise of the monastic life under Antony and its expansion under 

Benedict equally wonderful . * 119* 

The misery of Europe complete at the birth of Benedict . . .119 

Benedict at Subiaco and at Monte Cassino 120 

Delivers a captive peasant from his Grothic tormentor . . .122 
C^^enedict dies just before the end of the Ostrogothic rule in Italy . 123 
How far the ccenobitic life had gone before Benedict . . . .123 
C^^ine four sorts of monks mentioned by the Rule of St. Benedict 123 

The abbot, as a father, holds the place of Christ . . . • 125 
The abbot's teaching should be twofold, by word and by example . 126 
He must suit himself to ever}" disposition intrusted to him . .126 

He should be elected by all the brethren 1 27 

He should consult the brethren, but act himself 127 

The abbot's ofiice the same as that seen by St. Augustine 150 years 

before 128 

The monastery to contain all things needed by the monks . .128 

The whole monastic life built upon obedience 128 

Private property absolutely forbidden 129 

The novice to be accurately informed of the life before he is re- 
ceived . 130 

The promise of stability made after threefold examination . '131 

Bossuet's words on the Rule 132 

Surpassed by its effect as the parent of so many generations .132 



St. Benedict sends his disciple Maurus to found a house in France . 134 
The multitude of monasteries founded in Gaul in the sixth cen- 


tnry 135 


The Benedictine rule finally accepted by them all . . . . 135 
King. Theodebert, grandson of Clovis, approves the foundation . . 136 
The Burgundians, the Visigoths, and the Franks, and their settle- 
ment in Gaul 137 

By A.D. 550 the Franks had spread through the whole land . . 137 

Character of these barbarian invasions 137 

The Roman society in Gaul destroyed by them 139 

This destruction the same everywhere in the western provinces . . 139 

The cities in some respects fortresses, but continually falling in . \ 140 

Merits and demerits of the Franks 140 

Clovis treats the subjection of Aquitaine and Burgundy as a holy war 141 
Merovingian munificence in giving, viciousness in life . . .141 

The terrible barbarism of three centuries 142 

Contradictons of the Merovingian race 143 

St. Radegonda, her captivity, education, and married life . . • 144 
Is allowed by Clotaire to leave him and to build a monastery at 

Poitiers 145 

Her life at the Holy Cross for more than forty years . . . .145 
The burial of St. Radegonda by St. Gregory of Tours, and the sub- 
sequent state of her monastery 147 

-Summing up of the Merovingian period 147 

Perpetual variations of kingdoms, sovereigns, and frontiers . . 148 

The same state introduced by the Saxon incursions in Britain . . 149 

The similar condition of Italy and Spain 150 

The Christian unity in the midst of universal instability . . • 151 

The seat of unity in the accordance of mind with mind . . • 152 

How truth and unity stand to each other 152 

"The unity of the Church in General Councils contrasted with the 

civil dissolution 152 

The action of the Pope in all these Councils without parallel . • 153* 
Loss to the empire in the West of the imperial security . . • 154 
The monk entering the forest as a pilgrim and founding in it monas- 
teries 155 

Names given by the monks. to their monasteries 157 

The birth and education of St. Columban 157 

He studies for ten years in the great monastery of Bangor . • I57 
At thirty years of age departs with twelve monks for Gaul . .158 

Plants the great monastery of Luxeuil 159 

Columban rebukes King Thierry for his incontinence, and is expelled 159 

He is carried away first to Besan9on and then to Nantes . . . 161 

He stays a time at Bregenz, then crosses the Alps to Bobbio . . 161 

Columban's letter to Pope Boniface IV. and his death at Bobbio . 162 
Bertulfe, his second successor at Bobbio, obtains from Pope Hono- 

rius its exemption from episcopal jurisdiction .... 162 

Columban's work at Luxeuil, foundation of Dissentis and of St. Gall 163 
Eustatius, second abbot of Luxeuil, which becomes monastic capital 

of the whole region 164 

Walbert, the third abbot, governs it for forty years .... 165 

Pope John IV. bestows on it exemption from episcopal jurisdiction . 165 




Its six hundred monks found religious colonies in every direction 

while Mohammed is commencing his religion . . . .165 
The multiplication of monasteries begins a new epoch 166' 

Its effect doubled by the unsettled political condition of Gaul . .166 

The foundation of Lure by Deole or Deicola 167 

Lure doubly endowed by a rich widow and by King Clotaire II. . .168 

\ Moustier and Grand val founded by another monk from Luxeuil . .169 

XODhe life of Vandregisile and St Ouen, Archbishop of Rouen .170 

^bo induces him to found the Abbey of Fontenelle or St. Vandrille 171 

xhe inhabitants of the district converted by the abbot of Fontenelle 172 

Jumi^es also founded by Philibert 172 

The two convert and civilise the country of the Seine . • ^73 

Nine hundred monks and fifteen hundred lay brothers at Jumi^es . 1 73 



What is that Vita Communis the course of which has been so long 

followed t 174 

The Church's establishment of Christian marriage . -174 

Kellowed by another home created for the supernatural life • "^IS 

^Xot. Benedict's answer as to what it rests upon 175 

Bossuet*s definition of the Benedictine Rule, how justified . .176 

The establishment of a monastery indicates a new power in the 

spiritual life equal to marriage in the civil life . . .176 

The acceptance of such a life by vast numbers of the Teutonic and 

Gallo-Roman race in France from the middle of the sixth century 177 

The five forces conjointly forming a new society . . .178 

The miFsion of St. Patrick at the time that Gaul and Britain are lost 

to the Roman Empire 180 

He witnesses and shares the Christian life at Marmoutier, Lerins, 

and Auxerre 181 

. At sixty years of age he is sent as missionary to Ireland . . .182 

( He establishes the monastic institute 182 

< The great Irish monasteries send forth missionaries to the Continent 183 

Gaul, which gave Patrick to Ireland, received Columban back from her 1 84 

•^Irish learning in the time of Italian and Gallic ignorance . . . 185 

^The great monasteries in Wales, Bangor, Llandaff, St. David, St. 

Asaph found Sees 185 

The conversion of Eadoc, who founds the Abbey of Llancarvan . 187 

Brittany converted by an immigration of British monks • . .188 

' The number of Irish monks who founded monasteries out of Ireland, 

and were canonised for their work in conversion . . . .189 

The conversion of England by mission from St. Gregory . .191 

Effect of the Saxon invasion on the Christian religion .192 

Gregory's faith and courage in this mission 192 




Augustine and his monks pass through France and reach Ethelbert . 193 

The king, observing their life and conduct, is converted bj them . 194 

Aug^tine goes to Aries to be consecrated by the archbishop . . 196 

St. Gregory appoints him primate of all English bishops . • I97 

And records the baptism of ten thousand Angles at Christmas, 597 . 198 

Contemporaneous documents attest St Augustine's mission . . 199 
As also does the contrast between the Saxons as Pagans and as 

Christians 199 

St. Gregory's letter to Mellitus prescribing treatment of heathen 

temples aoi 

He prescribes to the archbishop to live as a monk, with his clergy 

as monks 202 

Special notes in the twin conversions of Ireland and of England . ao2 

What passed in Italy while Patrick was planting the faith in Ireland 203 

The state of Britain when it was converted — Burke and Lingard . 204 

The Archbishop of Canterbury made its primate by the Pope . . 205 
Diocesan and National Councils and the superior Papal authority 206-208 
This controlling and confirming power exerted through the seventh 

century 20S 

The archbishop the link connecting his province with the Pope . 209 

How the monastic institute grew from St. Anthony to St. Augustine 210 



Bede's conclusion of his history 211 

The last day of bis life 211 

The sources of Bede's information 212 

Burke names him the Father of English learning .... 213 

The universal character of his mind 214 

His history invaluable to us — Lingard — Alfred the Great . . .215 
Enables us to compare the Church set up by St. Augustine with 

the Catholic Church in the seventh century 216 

And the Catholic Church of the seventh century with the Catholic 

Church of the nineteenth 216 

And bestows on the first Anglo-Saxon century a history such as the 

first Christian century does not possess 217 

King Edwin of Northumbria marries Ethelburga, daughter of Ethel- 
bert 218 

Letter of Pope Boniface V. to King Edwin, still a heathen . .219 

And to Queen Ethelburga entreating her to work for his conversion 219 

Edwin converted by Faulinus, who reminds him of an old sign . . 220 
Considers with his Witan the Christian faith and embraces it . .221 

Is baptized at York with a great number 221 

Letter of Pope Honorius I. to Edwin, and gift of the pallium to 

Paulinus 222 



Death of King Edwin ... 223 

King Oswald brings Bishop Aidan from lona, seating him at Lindis- 

fame 225 

Life of Aidan, the monk-bishop 225 

Life and death of King Oswald 226 

Kings Oswj and Oswin divide Northumbria between them . 228 

Oswin*8 gift of a horse to Aidan, and how he is treacherously slain . 229 

Bishop Aidan's character drawn by Bede 230 

Eanfleda, Queen of Northumbria 231 

Oswy's great victory over the heathen Saxon Penda .... 232 
Bede's character of the three Cletic bishops, Aidan, Finan, and 

Colman 233 

The congress held at the monastery of Whitby 234 

King Oswy orders Colman and Wilfrid to set forth their several 

grounds 235 

Wilfrid rests on the authority of St. Peter 236 

This is accepted as decisive by Oswy and the congress ... 237 

The birth and youth of Wilfrid and his life at Lindisfame . 237 

His wish to go to Rome favoured by Queen Eanfieda .... 237 

He is recommended to King Ercombert, and reaches Lyons 238 

His first pilgrimage to Rome 239 

His three years' stay with the archbishop at Lyons .... 240 

His return to England and consecration by the Bishop of Paris 241 

Ceadda made Bishop of York by King Oswy 242 

Kings Oswy and Egbert write to the Pope to send them an arch- 
bishop 242 

Pope Vitalian's letter to King Oswy 243 

The pains taken by Pope Vitalian to find and send an archbishop . 244 

Archbishop Theodore received in a visitation all over England . . 245 

Oswy prevented by death from a pilgrimage to Rome .... 246 

^English students retire to Lreland for study or devotion . . '247 

^ Egbert converts lona, with all its dependent monasteries, to the 

Catholic custom of celebrating Easter and the tonsure . . 248 
The first Council convoked at Hertford in 673 by Archbishop Theo- 
dore 249 

Its ten canons 250 

The incidents which mark this Council 252 




The work of the three martyr-kings, Edwin, Oswald, and Oswin 254 

King Oswy and his wife Eanfieda 255 

Eanfieda ends as a nun under her daughter Elfieda as abbess 255 

The three monk-bishops throned at Lindisfarne 257 



All those who joined them or were educated by them monks . . 25S 

Aidan's vigorous work in education 258 

The Anglo-Saxon maidens aspire to be brides of Christ . . . 259 
Ebba, the sister of Kings Oswald and Oswj, becomes Abbess of 

Coldingham 260 

Bedels narrative of St. Hilda 261 

She visits the monasterj of Chelles, and is sent by Aidan to be 

abbess on the Wear, and then at Hartlepool .... 262 

The discipline she established at Streaneshelch or Whitby . . 262 

The five bishops who came out of Whitby monastery .... 263 

St. Hilda becomes a light to all England 263 

Her death after six continuous years of suffering .... 264 

The vision of her death by a nun in another convent .... 265 

Bede describes St. Hilda's thirty years at Whitby .... 265 

No nation at its conversion so prized the virginal life .... 265 
The great abbesses rank with bishops and abbots, and witness 

charters 266 

Elfleda, King Oswy's daughter, ranks with St. Ebba and St Hilda . 267 
Wilfrid becomes Bishop of York, with all the dominions of Oswy for 

his episcopate ... 267 

He is also Abbot of Hexham and Ripon 269 

His character and manners attract all to him 270 

St. Etheldreda obtains leave from her husband to leave him . .271 

Wilfrid's ten years of laborious work in bis diocese of Korthnmbria . 272 

St. Theodore in 679 appoints three bishops to divide his diocese . 272 

Wilfrid appeals to the Pope and goes in person to Rome . . • 272 

Preaches in Frisia, and passes by Austrasia and Lombardy to Rome . 273 

Pope Agatho brings the appeal of Wilfrid before his Roman Conncil . 275 

And reinstates him in the See of York 275 

Wilfrid, by the Pope's command, makes confession of faith for all the 

Northern bishops 276 

Etheldreda, being Queen of Northumbria, becomes a nun and Abbess 

of Ely 277 

Her body sixteen years after burial disinterred and found incorrupt • 278 
The three queens of Northumberland, Kent, and Mercia successive 

Abbesses of Ely 279 

The life and pilgrimages of St. Bennet Biscop • • . • • 280 
Is attached by Pope Vitalian to the newly -appointed primate, 

Theodore 282 

Builds a monastery at Wearmouth by help of King Egfrid . . 282 

And a second monastery at Jarrow 283 

He dies, after sixteen years, in 690 285 

English conversion due exclusively to the work of monks and nuns . 285 

Testimonies of Burke on this subject 286 

French monasteries are the cradles of English nuns .... 288 

The union of Church and State founded in the monastic spirit . . 289 

The great part of woman in the conversion of the Teutonic race . 289 
The Fathers of the Desert lose their progeny in the East and regain 

it in the West 292 





Irregularities in the time of St. Theodore, and their correction . . 294 

The beginning of parish priests 295 

Outline of their functions 295 

Thej are bound to continence 297 

Bishops in their cathedrals live as monks with their clergy 298 

The presence of women forbidden in a mass-priest's house . 298 
The time and action of Pope Sergius, who refuses the TruUan 

Council 299 

And the introduction of married priests into the East . . 300 
Which six successive Popes refuse for the West at the risk of their 

life from the Eastern emperor 301 

Other acts of Pope Sergius in support of the English Church . 302 

St. Willibrord and St. Suidbert in Frisia 303 

The fifty years missionary life of St. Willibrord 304 

Winfrid, the Anglo-Saxon monk, appears before Pope Gregory II. . 305 

Who commissions him to preach to unbelieving nations . . 306 

Winfrid Joins St. Willibrord during three years 307 

His second visit to Pope Gregory II., who makes him regionary 

bishop 308 

The oath of Winfrid — Boniface to the Pope 309 

The compages or structure of the Church seen in this oath . . . 309 
The protection, support, and counsel given by the Pope to Boni- 
face 311 

Six letters written by the Pope to commend him to Germans on the 

Rhine 311-314 

Everything as to ordinations prescribed according to a set rule . 313 
Gregory II. converting the old Saxons as Gregory L the Anglo- 
Saxons • . . . 313 

Three foundations of the German Church given by Gregory II. to 

Boniface 314 

Charles Martel receives and supports him 315 

Boniface cuts down Thor's oak before a gpreat multitude . • 3 < 5 
He builds many monasteries and churches on the site of former 

heathen sanctuaries 316 

He draws a gpreat number of Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns from 

England to help him 316 

Death of Pope Gregory II 317 

Pope Gregory III. confers the rank of archbishop and the pallium 
on Boniface, which he receives at the same time that Egbert 

receives that of York ......... 318 

The hierarchies of England and of Germany sprung from the Roman 

mission 319 

The third Journey to Rome of St. Boniface, a«d. 739 319 




The position of Boniface on the accession of Pope Zacharias, A.D. 741 320 
His profession of obedience to this Pope as his legate . . .321 
To him he declares that Carlomann wished him to hold a Council . 322 
For which he requires the Pope*s special authority .... 322 
The Pope answers in detail the requests of Boniface .... 322 
Declares that Boniface is his legate for Bavaria and the whole of 

Gaul . 323 

Answer of Pope Zacharias to a series of questions from Pepin, the 

bishops, abbots, and princes of the Frank realm .... 324 
A prelude to his future decision as to changing the possessor of the 

royal power itself 325 

Boniface presiding at councils for the restoration of discipline in 

France 325 

Consecrates Pepin to be king on election by the nobles after Papal 

approval 326 

The great and perpetual love with which he fostered monks and 

nuns 327 

He sends a letter on the state of the English Church to Archbishop 

Cuthbert 328 

Who convokes the Council of Cloveshoe in 747 328 

Boniface describes the discipline of the Church as decreed in his 

Council of Mainz in 746 329 

His anxiety for those working under him— Letters to Fulrad for 

them 330 

He resigns his archbishopric to Lull 331 

His journey down the Rhine and martyrdom 332 



Attila and St. Leo . 333 

St. Leo's confirmation of the Fourth Council 333 

St Leo and Genseric 334 

The facts herein comprised 335 

How St. Leo stood in a new world 335 

Imperial schism ensues on Arian predominance 336 

Terminated by acknowledgment that the solidity of the Christian 

religion rests in the Apostolic See 336 

The Arian king of Italy murders the Pope 337 

The deposition of a second Pope inaugurates exarchal viccroyalty . 337 

Justinian tries to control a third Pope as a subject .... 337 

Exarchal viceroyalty imposed for more than two hundred years . 338 

Broken at last by the restoration of a Christian emperor . . . 338 

The submission of thirty-three Popes to the Byzantine oppression . 339 
During which they conducted with success four great contests for the 

Faith ............ 340 



The example and authority of St. Gregory furthering the monastic 

spirit . . . 340 

The lives of Christ and of Odin encounter each other before Ethel- 

bert 341 

The ten thousand Christmas converts recorded by St. Gregory . 343 

The choice between Christ and Odin repeated by King Edwin . . 344 

The great examples of Kings Oswald and Oswln .... 344 
St. Benedict makes the West just when Mohammed desecrates the 

East .....«..•.*• 34) 

The triple impulse given by St. Gregory to this movement 346 

How virgins followed martyrs in England 347 

Where civil and religious government arose together .... 347 
St. Gregory provided in the outset for a kingdom as well as a Church 348 
The people through the bishops rank with the first civil powers . 348 
The union of the two powers running through the Gr^orian con- 
version 349 

The civil state thus arising far superior to Justinian's empire . . 349 
The assumption of the Vita Communis by the Northern race the real 

foundation of Europe 350 

The monastic spirit from the Fathers of the Desert to Boniface, the 

legate of four Popes 351 

How witnessed by Athanasius, Basil, Augustine, and Jerome . • 35 1 

Its growth in the seventh century 352 

The manifold work of abbeys 353 

National conversions wrought on pagan nations by the monastic 

spirit in both sexes 354 

Its universal extent at the time it was least to be expected . . 354 

And how far it had gone with St. Boniface 355 

The duel of thirteen centuries as fought in the seventh . . . 357 
The monastery's cultivation of the interior life and the maintenance 

of the faith 357 

The monastery as kindling the missionary spirit .... 358 
St. Columban*s blessing on St. Ouen and his brothers . . '359 

St. Ouen founding a monastery on his inherited estate . . . 360 
He rules the whole diocese of Rouen with a spiritual sovereignty in 

his pontificate of forty-three years 360 

Agilius another great disciple of Columban 361 

Columban*s influence on the great chief Agneric and his family . 362 

His daughter, Burgundofara, inherits Columban*s spirit . . . 363 
She founds Faremoutier, which receives many Anglo-Saxons for nuns 

and abbesses 364 

The houses of Faremoutier, Jouarre, Andelys, and Chelles help to 

train the first Anglo-Saxon converts 364 

In all such houses servile labour gave place to free labour . . 364 
And monks and nuns took the place of lihertini and lihertina . 365 
Christian cohesion humanised the broken and scattered life of bar- 
barism 366 

The Holy See as protecting and presiding over monastic life and 

drawing oat of it a congruous monarchy 367 



"Wliile the monasteries trained obedient subjects and wise coansellon 

of sovereigns 368 

Monastic discipline educating a new people both of ruled and ralers j68 

The civil servitude nnder which the Pope worked and conquered • 368 
In which was also the struggle between Christian and Saracenic 

life 369 

The fourth contest of the Iconoclast heresy in the eighth century . 370 

The era of Leo the Great developed in that of Leo II L . • 37t 

'J'he three contrasted monarchies which thus came forth . . . 374 




The martyrs had conquered. The sole ruler of the Roman 
Empire had professed the faith of Christ, and, in union with 
the three Sees of Peter at Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, 
liad summoned, for the first time in their history, the 
bishops of the whole Church to meet. They met, bearing 
many of them in their bodies the marks of confessorship. 
The emperor accepted their doctrinal decrees as the judg- 
ment of the Lord whose Godhead they averred, and guarded 
their execution with the imperial authority. It was a 
moment of great triumph, after ten generations of trial 
and of suffering. 

About that same year, 325, on the site of a deserted 
village, one day's journey down the Nile from Thebes, 
Pachomius founded the first Christian monastery. Eorn 
in 292, he had, when scarcely twenty years of age, been 
pressed into the army at the time when Constantiiie was 
carrying on war against his colleague Maxentius. He was 
then a heathen. When, on the conclusion of the war, he 
returned home, he became a Christian, and heard of the 
aged anchoiite Palemoii, who was quite dead to the world, 
and led a heavenly life in the desert of the Thebaid. 
Pachomius induced Palemon to allow him to practise the 
same spiritual exercises and labours. So Pachomius lived 
during many years a life of great hardship. Once, search- 
ing for a complete solitude, he came to a place where .a 
voice from above said to him interiorly in prayer, " Pacho- 




mills, this is the place where thou shalt serve Me, thou and 
many others. I^ehold ! " And an angel showed him a 
tablet upon which were written the precepts which he 
afterwards gave to his monks as the rules of their Order. 
He submitted all to the judgment of Palemon, who went 
with^him to Tabenna, where he helped him to erect a cell. 

u\fter the death of Talemon, when he was nearly thirty- 
thi^ years old, he founded the monastery of Tabenna, and 
became its first abbot. Here he received all who desired 
to ofler themselves up in sacrifice to God by a life of 
penance and self-denial. Before long the monks of Tabenna 
were reckoned by hundreds. In the end, he founded eight 
monasteries of men, each of which had a prior, who was 
subject to the Abbot of Tabenna. Tlie hierarchical form 
was observed from the first beginning of the monastic life. 
In the various classes of his monks, all were distributed 
according to their various talents and capabilities, the weak 
in the easy occupations, and the strong in the difficult 
ones ; but all, without exception, had to work. There was 
a class for each work that was required in the monastery — 
a class of cooks, of gardeners, of bakers, &c. The sick 
formed one class, and the porters another, which latter 
consisted of very circumspect and discreet men, because 
they had charge of the intercourse with the external world, 
and the preparatory instruction of those who wished to 
be received. Each class inhabited their own house, which 
was divided into cells, and three brethren dwelt together 
in each cell. But there was only one kitchen for all, 
and they ate in community, but in the deepest silence, 
and with their hoods drawn down so low over their heads 
that no one could see whether his neighbour ate much 
or little. Pachoinius practised the same rule about food 
as about prayer ; he was not too severe upon some, while 
he gave free scope to the zeal of others. Their usual meals 
consisted of bread and cheese, salt fish, olives, figs, and 
other fruits. 

Pachomius also founded for his sister a monasteiy of 
women on the other side of the river. Except the priest, 
who, with his deacon, offered up the Holy Sacrifice of the 
Mass every Sunday, no man crossed the threshold of the 


monastery, l^ie nuns had the same occupations as the 
monks. They prayed in community at fixed times during 
the day and night, reciting a certain number of psalms 
and hymns ; and they each prayed alone, and contem- 
plated the mysteries of the faith, or the sentences and 
teachings of Holy Writ, during their work, whether it 
consisted of the household duties, cooking, baking, washing, 
and working in the garden, or of separate manual labours. 
They spun out the yarn of which they wove their garments, 
and if they had more than was required for their com- 
munity, they made clothes for the poor and gave them 

Whosoever resolved to remain in the monastery was kept 
for three whole years employed in manual labour and in the 
minor household works, and then for the first time admitted 
to the spiritual exercises, and to his owi/ place of combat. 
No one was received who was not free, who was under age, 
or who had contracted any indissoluble engagements in the 
world. No money or presents were taken from those who 
entered, as it might have been a source of vanity to the 
richer brethren, or of false shame to the poorer ones. 
Serving the strangers was the first hj^ble occupation of 

I nrsc njjpii 
iiot-'fesLdy hi 

the new-comer. If he could uofr-1?ad, he had to learn to 
do 80, and whilst he was a novice, to learn by heart the 
whole of the New Testament and the Psalm3._\ This was 
a good practice for impressing holy doctirines on the 
memory, and for leading the mind to supernatural things. 
Besides, owing to the value of books at that time, and 
the great number of the brethren, it was impossible to 
provide each one with a copy of the Holy Scriptures, 
although some of the monks were always employed in 
copying. A trumpet summoned them to the community 
prayers. At its sound the monks had immediately to 
leave their cells, and this they did with such punctuality 
that they never even finished the letter they had begun ; 
this punctuality is indeed only conscientious obedience, 
without which no house or community can be kept in 
order. Every Saturday and Sunday the monks received 
the most Holy Sacrament. A priest from the nearest 
church offered the Holy Sacrifice, for there were no priests 


among the first disciples of Pachomius, and he himself, 
like AntoDy, HilarioD, and Ammon, was a layman. No 
brother was permitted to receive holy orders, and if an 
ecclesiastic joined the community, he had to submit himself 
to the same rule of life as all the others, because Pachomius 
wished to remove every occasion of dissimilarity or ambition.^ 

But while Pachomius is esteemed to have been the first 
legislator of monastic life, and to have had a special attrac- 
tion which drew together many hundreds of both sexes to 
embrace the rule which he gave them, the great model of 
anchorets first and of coenobites afterwards was another, 
who was more than forty years earlier in birth, and sur- 
vived him eight years. We have the singular felicity to 
possess of him a life written by one who had been bis 
disciple and friend, and at the time of writing this life was 
the most renowned confessor and champion of the Catholic 
faith then existing, besides being the holder of the Church's 
second See. About the year 365, Athanasius, at the request 
of some monks — Western, as it is supposed — drew up a 
life of St. Antony. With these words he began it : — 

"It is a good contest in which you have entered with 
the monks of Egypt, purposing to equal or surpass them 
in your resolute exercise of virtue; for you also have 
monasteries, and the name of monks is cultivated among 
you. This your purpose is worthy of praise, and may God 
accomplish your prayers for it. But since you have asked 
of me also concerning the mode of life of blessed Antony, 
in your wish to learn how he began his ascetic training, 
and what he was before it, and what was his life's end, and 
if the tilings said of him are true, that you may set your- 
selves after his example, I have most readily accepted your 
charge. For to me also the sole remembrance of Antony 
is a great gain. And I know, too, that when you hear 
me, together with your admiration of the man, you will 
wish to imitate his purpose. For the life of Antony is a 
sufficient ascetic standard for monks. Do not, then, dis- 
believe the things recorded to you of him. Bather think 

^ AH the preceding account is taken from different parts of the trmnt^i^ 
lation from Hahn-Hahn's " Fathers of the Desert," edited by Fi "^^ 
iMlj^ims. turn 




that you have heard but little, for certainly they cannot 
have told you all. For even at your request the things 
which I send you by letter will be few memorials of him. 
Do not, then, cease to inquire of those who sail hence. For 
if each tell you what he knows, the narrative w^U scarcely 
reach that one's merits. I wished, then, upon receiving 
your letter, to send for some of the monks who had been 
most accustomed to be with him, so that from their in- 
formation I might tell you more. But the sailing-time 
was drawing in, and the letter-carrier was urgent So I 
made haste to write to your piety what I myself know, for 
I have often seen him, and what I have been able to learn 
from him, for I followed him no little time, and poured 
water over his hands, carefully herein rendering the truth, 
so that the hearer may neither distrust any things as exces- 
sive, nor from defect form an unworthy conception of the man. 

" Antony was an Egyptian, born of noble and prosperous 
Christian parents, and himself brought up a Christian. 
When a child, he was kept by them in their own house, 
knowing none beyond. As he grew up, he would not 
receive a literary education, not desiring intercourse with 
other children. All his desire was to be a plain man in 
his own home. Nevertheless he frequented the church 
with his parents ; he knew no idleness, nor as he advanced 
did he disregard them. He was obedient to them, he 
attended to his studies, retaining the fruit he derived 
from them, nor, though brought up in abundance, did he 
give his parents trouble by costly habits and the pleasures 
belonging to them. He was simply content with what he 

"At the death of his parents he was left alone with a 
very young sister at eighteen or twenty years of age, and 
managed for himself both house and sister. Before six 
months were over, going as usual to the church and 
collecting his own mind, he thought, as he walked, how 
the Apostles left everything and followed the Saviour, and 
how those engaged in business brought their possessions 
and placed them at the feet of the Apostles for distribu- 
tion to the poor, and how great was the hope laid up for 
them in heaven. As these thoughts were in his mind he 


entered the church, and heard the Gospel read in the which 
the Lord said to the rich man, * If thou wilt be perfect, go 
sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shaJt 
have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Ma' But 
Antony, as if receiving this thought from God, and as if 
the reading had been for him, going straight out of the 
church, gave away to the village his ancestral property, 
three hundred rich and excellent arourm^ that he and 
his sister might be free of all claim from them. All his 
other goods he likewise sold, and collecting a considerable 
sum, gave them to the poor, keeping a little for his sister. 

"Entering the church another time, he heard in the 
Gospel the Lord saying, ' Be not solicitous for the morrow.' 
Not enduring to wait any longer, he went out and gave 
the rest away to those who wanted it. But he gave the 
charge of his sister to faithful well-known virgins, putting 
her in a house ^ of virgins to be brought up. He devoted 
himself to the ascetic life, with a strict and careful treat- 
ment. For there were not yet many monasteries in Egypt, 
nor did the monk yet know of the great desert, but every 
one who wished to keep watch over himself exercised 
himself alone near his own village. In the neighbouring 
village there was at that time an old man who from 
youth had practised the solitary life. Antony saw and 
followed him, and remained near his own village, and 
there, if he found any zealous person, would seek him out 
like a prudent bee, and not leave him till he had got 
something from him. Thus he so strengthened his mind 
as never to return to his parents' condition nor to re- 
member his relations, but his whole heart was to the 
perfection of the ascetic life. He worked with his hands, 
having heard ' if a man will not work, neither let him eat,' 
and part he gave to his own support, and part to those 
in want. He prayed continually, knowing that incessant 
private prayer is a duty. He was so attentive to reading 
that he lost nothing, but retained everything, making his 
memory serve him for books." 

^ Measure of loo square cubits. 

- ih vapSevuva dvaTp^<l>€a6aij sec. 3. This is noted as the first recorded 
instance of such a house ; it would date about a.d. 270. 


Athanasius now describes the life of Antony during 
fourteen years, from his twenty-first to his thirty-fifth year, 
that is, from A.D. 271 to 285, which was at the beginning 
of Diocletian's rei^n. This was a time of increasing 
severity throughout, in which he practised the virtue of 
all be saw around him, cherishing the continence of one, 
the kindliness of another, the prayerfulness of a third : he 
fasted, he lay on the ground ; above all, he cherished piety 
towards Christ and charity towards others. They esteemed 
him a special friend of God. He underwent every tempta- 
tion belonging to his age, but without ever failing. The 
most remarkable incident told of him by his great biographer 
is, that having shut himself up in a tomb, he remained long 
alone in it The friend who brought him at intervals bread 
for his support, found him once lying as it were dead on 
the ground, and severely beaten by an attack of demons in 
the night The friend rescued him, and having taken him 
back, Antony suffered another attack from all sorts of 
beasts and reptiles, who appeared to surround him. At 
last he was relieved from these. Light streamed upon 
him, and he became aware of a presence to whom he 
cried, ' Where wast Thou ? why didst Thou not appear to 
heal my pains?' And the voice answered, 'Antony, I 
was here; but I waited to behold thy struggle Since 
thou didst endure and wast not conquered, I will ever be 
thy helper, and give thee a name to be known over the 
earth.' So he arose refreshed, and felt his bodily strength 
increased. He was then near thirty-five years old." 

The next day he invited the old man above mentioned 
to go with him and inhabit the desert When he declined 
this, both on account of his age and because there was no 
custom of the kind, Antony at once set off by himself to 
the mountain. Neither a silver disk which he found in 
the road lying before him, nor a vast mass of gold after- 
wards, could induce him to stop. He passed both in haste, 
and finding on the other side the river a deserted castle 
full of reptiles, he entered it. He took with him a quantity 
of bread sufficient for six months, as is a Theban custom, 
and finding water within, he closed the door and took up 
his abode there alone for twenty years. Thus he cultivated 


a solitary ascetic life, receiving bread twice a year for hid 
support from the top of the house. 

The years which he thus lived alone were from a.d. 285 
to 305, which was the third year in which the persecution 
of Diocletian was raging. His friends often tried to see 
}iim, but he would not open to them. They heard at the 
door strange noises, as of a multitude fighting within, but 
looking through the keyhole, they could see nothing. In 
their terror they would call out for Antony. He would 
come near the unopened door, and tell them to fear nothing, 
but sign themselves with the cross and suffer those illusions 
to proceed. He was unhurt by these diabolic attacks, and 
celestial visions afterwards refreshed him. Tliey heard him 
singing, " Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered, 
and let those who hate Him flee before Him." 

Thus for nearly twenty years, leading apart an ascetic 
life, he scarcely stirred from his ruined castle, nor was seen 
by any one. But after this, many desiring to imitate his 
life, they burst the doors, and Antony came forth as one 
initiated in a mystery from a shrine and under a divine 
impulse. Then first he appeared outside his encampment 
to those who approached. They were astonished to behold 
him with a body unchanged. An inactive life had not 
produced obesity, nor had his fastings and diabolic con- 
tests made him meagre. He was just as they had known 
him before his retirement. His mind was pure, neither 
dissolved by pleasure nor affected by depression : the sight 
of a multitude did not disturb him, nor their <;reetin2S 
rejoice him. He was as a man altogether even, ruled by 
reason, standing in his native steadfastness. The Lord 
healed by him many that appeared before him suffering 
in their bodies, liberated others from devils, and bestowed 
grace upon Antony's speech. He consoled many in their 
sorrow ; he restored the friendship of others, enjoining upon 
all to value nothing in the world more than the charity 
of Christ. In his conversation he urged to remember the 
good things prepared for us, and the loving-kindness of 
God to us, who spared not His own Son, but gave Him up 
for us all. So he persuaded many to embrace the monastic 
life. Thus arose monasteries in the mountains also, and 


the desert became inhabited by monks, who left their homes, 
and inscribed themselves as citizens of heaven. 

It is from this time forth, when Antony had pursued 
thirty-five years of ascetic life — the first fifteen in or near 
liis own village of Koma, the next twenty in his ruined 
castle alone — and was now fifty-five years of age, that 
Athanasius presents him to us as a pattern and leader of 
men. He was to live fifty years more, the years from 
305 to 355, years embracing both the last and greatest 
of the ten persecutions, the proclamation of the Church's 
freedom by the victorious Constantine in 313, the holding 
of the first General Council in 325, the fresh breaking 
out of the Arian heresy by the scheming of the court-bishop 
Eusebius, and the gradual alienation of Constantine, and 
the bitterest persecution of the Catholic faith when the 
third son of Constantine, by the death of his brothers, had 
become sole emperor. All these things Antony witnessed 
in the last fifty years of his life ; and, as need required, 
he came forth from the solitude of his monastery to meet 
any trial of his brethren. "The need consisted in visiting 
them."^ Thus Athanasius mentions that he went for this 
purpose so far as the canal which passes to Arsenoe (Suez). 
It was full of crocodiles. He only prayed, and embarked 
with all his company, and they passed over uninjured. 
From this time wo are to consider him not only as often 
alone in the ruined castle, or in what is called the inner 
monastery in the desert, but as meeting those who were 
leading an ascetic life, guiding them and acting upon them. 
" When he returned to his solitary life, he pursued the 
same vigorous labours as before. But by constant inter- 
course he increased the zeal of those who were already 
monks ; he stirred many others to the love of the ascetic 
life, and quickly, by the attraction of his word, the monas- 
teries multiplied greatly, and all these he governed as a 

The sermon which Athanasius here gives at considerable 
length, translated by him from the Egyptian into Greek, 
may, I suppose, be esteemed a summary of Antony's 
doctrine, as to its leading points, made by Athanasius, and 

^ Sec. 1$. 


comes to us with the double authority of the father of 
monks and of the man who was the pillar of orthodoxy at 
the time he published it, in the year 355, that of his fifth 
banishment by the Arian emperor Valeus. 

One day, when he was on a progress, and all the monks 
came to him and asked that they miglit hear his precepts, 
he spoke thus to theiu in the Egyptian tongue : " The 
Scriptures are indeed sufficient for our standard of teaching, 
but it is well for us to exhort each other in the faith, 
and encourage ourselves by mutual converse. Do you then, 
as children to a father, bring to me what you know, and 
I, as being your elder in age, share with you my knowledge 
and my experiences. First of all, let diligence be your 
common possession. After beginning, not to draw back, 
not to give way in your labours, not to say, ' It is a long 
time since we began to be ascetics ; * rather, as if every 
day were the first, increase your willingness, for the whole 
life of man is very short measured with the ages to come, 
so that all our time is nothing put beside eternal life. In 
the world everything is valued at its price, and a fair ex- 
change is made. But the promise of eternal life is made 
for a small cost. For it is written, the days of our years 
are threescore and ten years, but if in the strong, they are 
fourscore years, and what is more of them is labour and 
sorrow. Well, then, if we continue ascetics all the eighty 
years, or even a hundred, we shall not reign only a hundred 
years, but ages upon ages instead of the hundred. And 
if our conflict be upon the earth, our inheritance will not be 
there. We have the promises in heaven. We put off a 
corruptible body, we take it back incorruptible. 

" So, my children, let us not faint, nor think we are a 
long time about it, or are doing something great ; for ' the 
sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with 
the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.* Nor, 
looking on the world, should we think that we have re- 
nounced something great, for the whole compass of the 
earth is very small to the whole compass of heaven. If 
we were lords of the whole earth, and had renounced it 
all, it would be worth nothing compared with the kingdom 
of heaven. If one should despise a brass coin to get a 


hundred gold coins, so the lord of the whole earth who re- 
nounces it, gives up little and receives a hundred-fold. But 
if all the earth is not worthy of heaven, he who gives up 
a few acres is as one who leaves nothing. If he gives up 
a house or a lump of gold, let him neither be boastful nor 
listless; for if we do not give it up for virtue's sake, yet 
we give it up when we die, and often, as Ecclesiastes re- 
minds, to those whom we do not wish. Why then do we 
not give it up for virtue's sake to inherit a kingdom ? On 
this account do not take up a desire of possessing. What 
is the gain of possessing things which we do not even take 
with us ? Why not rather possess those things which we 
can take with us, such as prudence, justice, temperance, 
fortitude, understanding, charity, love of the poor, faith in 
Christ, gentleness, hospitality ? If we possess these things, 
we shall find them ready at our coming to welcome us in 
the land of the meek. 

"By such things every one may persuade himself not 
to be neglectful, and especially let him consider himself to 
be the Lord's servant, and one who owes service to his 
Master. As, then, the servant would not dare to say, 'As 
I worked yesterday, I will not work to-day,' or measuring 
past time, refuse the present, but day by day, as is written 
in the Gospel, shows the same readiness to please his lord 
and not endanger himself, so we remain ascetics day by 
day, knowing that if we neglect a single day, allowance 
will not be made us for the past time, but there will be 
anger against us for the neglect. So we have lieard in 
Ezekiel. So Judas for one night lost the labour of the 
past time. 

" Let us then, children, cling to our ascetic life, and not 
be listless. For in this we have our Lord for fellow- 
worker, ris it is written, to every one that chooses the good, 
God works together unto good. And not to be careless, it 
is well to meditate on the Apostle's word, * I die daily ; for 
if we live as dying daily, we shall not sin.' The meaning 
of which is, that every day as we rise we should think that 
we last not till the evening, and when we go to rest, 
expect not to rise, since our life by nature is uncertain 
and measured every day by Providence. With such a 


disposition, and so living daily, we shall not sin, nor have 
a desire for anything, nor be angry with any one, nor lay 
up treasure on the earth ; but, as expecting daily to die, we 
shall be without possessions, and yield everything to every- 
body ; we shall not hold to desire of woman, or any other 
unseemly pleasure, but turn away from it as transient, ever 
waging the conflict, and forecasting the day of judgment. 
For the greater fear and the conflict with torments ever 
overcomes the softer pleasure and redresses the yielding 

" Having then begun and entered on the way of virtue, 
let us contend the more to reach the future, and no one 
turn back, as Lot's wife, especially as the Lord has said, 

* No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, 
is fit for the kingdom of heaven.' But to look back is 
nothing but to change purpose, and again be worldly- 
minded. But be not afraid when hearing of virtue, nor 
think it strange because of the name. For it is not far 
from us, nor exists outside of us. The thing is in our- 
selves, and the matter is easy, if we have only the will. 
The Greeks journey and pass the sea to learn literature ; 
but we have no need to journey for the kingdom of heaven, 
nor to pass the sea for virtue. For the Lord has said 
already, 'The kingdom of heaven is. within you.' There- 
fore virtue has only need of our will, since it is in us, and 
is made of us. For virtue consists because the soul is 
naturally intelligent. And it is in its natural condition 
when it remains as it was made, and it was made beautiful, 
and very upright. For this Josue enjoined the people, 

* Make straight your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel,* 
and John, * Make straight your ways.' For that the soul 
should be upright, is that its natural intelligence should 
be as it was created. And again, the soul is said to be 
vicious when it declines and is perverted from what it is 
by nature. So then the thing is not difficult, for if we 
remain as we are made, we are in virtue ; but if we turn 
our mind to corrupt things, we are judged to be vicious. 
If, then, the thing were to be got from outside us, it would 
indeed be difficult, but if it is in us, let us guard our- 
selves from evil thoughts, and as those who have received 


a deposit, keep the soul for the Lord, that He may 
recognise His own work, being still as He made it. 

" Let it be your effort that anger do not tyrannise over 
you, nor desire master you; for it is written, 'The anger 
of man worketh not the justice of God/ and ' When con- 
cupiscence hath conceived it bringelh forth sin, but sin, 
when it is completed, begetteth death/ But living as we 
do, we must keep constant watch, as is written, ' With all 
watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issueth out from 
it/ For we have terrible and crafty enemies, the evil 
demons, and our wrestling is against these, as the Apostle 
said, ' Not against flesh and blood, but against principalities 
and powers, against the rulers of the world of this dark- 
ness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.' 
Great then is their multitude in the air about us; they 
are not far from us. Large also is the difference between 
them. Much might be said of their nature and their 
difference, but such a description belongs to greater than 
to us. What now presses on us and is needful is only to 
know their insidious designs against ourselves. 

" First, then, let us know this, that those who are called 
demons are not as they were made ; for God made nothing 
evil. They also were made good, but falling away from 
their heavenly -mindedness, and wallowing in the earth, 
they deceived the Gentiles with phantasies, but they try 
everything in their envy against us Christians, wishing to 
hinder us from entering heaven, that wo may not ascend to 
the place from which they have fallen. Hence the need of 
much prayer and asceticism, so that receiving through the 
Spirit the gift of discerning spirits, one may be able to 
know what concerns them — how some are less bad, and 
some worse, and with what study each of them employs 
himself, and how each of them is overcome and cast out. 
For their deceits are multifold, and the movements of their 
plotting. Now the blessed Apostle and those about him 
knew these things when they said, ' We are not ignorant of 
his devices.' But we ought to be corrected by each other 
from what we have experienced about them. I, at any 
rate, having some experience about them, speak to you as 
my children. 


" If, then, they see that all Christians, and monks especially, 
^ oik hard and advance, their first attempt is to put offences 
in their way. These offences are bad thoughts. But we 
are not to fear their suggestions. They are foiled at once 
by prayers and fastings and faith in our Lord. But when 
foiled, they do not rest. Again, they make crafty and 
deceitful approaches. For when they do not succeed in 
deceiving the heart by openly filthy pleasure, they make a 
different attack. They try to alarm by various appearances. 
They assume the shapes of women, wild beasts, reptiles, huge 
bodies, military troops. But neither have we to dread these 
their appearances, for they are nothing and quickly dis- 
appear, especially if you guard yourself by faith and the 
sign of the cross. They are venturesome and very shame- 
less. For if they be also conquered in this, they try 
another way, and pretend to prophesy, and to foretell things 
about to happen, and to show themselves as tall as the 
ceiling, and big in proportion, that they may carry away 
by such appearances those whom they failed to deceive by 
thoughts. But if they find the soul protected here also by 
faith and hope, as a last means they bring on their ruler." 

And Antony said that they often appeared such as the 
Lord revealed the devil to Job (xli. 9-1 1), in the words, 
" His eyes are like the eyelids of the morning : out of his 
mouth go forth lamps like torches of lighted fire: out of 
his nostrils goeth smoke like that of a pot heated and 
boiling. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame cometh 
forth out of his mouth." " The ruler of the demons appear- 
ing in such guise, the deceiver by his big words, as I have 
said, inspires terror, as again the Lord convicted him, in 
his words to Job (xli. 18): * He shall esteem iron as straw, 
and brass as rotten wool : the sea he regards as a pot of 
ointment, and its abyss as his captive : he regards it as a 
walking-place.' But by the prophet he says (Isaias x. 14) : 
' I will take all the earth in my hand as a nest, and as 
eggs are gathered that are left,' Such are the boasts 
which they made, and such their promises to deceive the 
worshippers of God. But neither thus are the faithful to 
be frightened by his appearances or to listen to his words. 
He is false and says nothing true. With all these bier 


words, and with his confidence, he has been taken as a 
dragon by the Saviour's hook (Job xl. 1 9) ; like a beast of 
burden his nostrils have received the bridle, as a fugitive 
slave his lips have been strung. The Lord has bound him 
as a sparrow to be mocked by us. He and the demons 
with him, as if they were scorpions and snakes, are put to 
be trodden under our feet as Christians. A proof of this is 
our present mod^ of life defying him. For he who boasted 
that he would wipe up the sea and gather the earth in his 
hand, he is not able to prevent your asceticism, nor my 
words against him. Do not therefore listen to what he 
says, for he is false, nor fear his appearances, which aie 
also false. It is not really light which appears in them. 
Eather they hear the prelude and image of tlie fire in 
preparation for tbem, and they try to frighten men by the 
flames in which they are to be burned themselves. They 
really appear, but they quickly disappear, injuring no one 
of the faithful, but carrying in themselves the likeness of 
the fire which is to receive them. Therefore they are not 
to be feared, for all their contrivances by the grace of 
Clirist come to nothing. 

" Tiiey are full of fraud and ready for every change and 
transformation. Often they pretend to sing psalms in tune, 
being invisible, and they quote the Scriptures. Sometimes 
when we are reading, they repeat like an echo the same 
things. When we are sleeping they awake us to prayer, 
and this they constantly do, scarcely allowing us to sleep, 
sometimes transforming themselves into the likeness of 
monks, ihey pretend to speak piously, that in the like 
shape they may lead us into error, and so draw us under 
deception whither they will. But give no attention to 
them, though they wake to prayer, though they give 
counsel to eat nothing, though they feign to accuse and 
reproach as to matters in which they have had joint know- 
ledge with us. It is not for piety or for truth that they 
do so, but to lead the simple to despair, and to call the 
ascetic life unserviceable, and to make men loathe it, as if 
the monastic life were burdensome and oppressive, and to 
hamper those who pursue it. 

" Now the prophet sent by the Lord (Habakkuk ii i 5) 


condemned the misery of such in the words, ' Woe to him 
that giveth drink to his friend, and presenteth his gall, and 
maketh him drunk/ For such conduct and purposes sub- 
vert the road leading to virtue ; and the Lord in His own 
person silenced the demons though they said the truth, as 
* Thou art the Son of God,' and forbade them to speak, 
lest they should sow their own malice upon the truth, and 
that He might accustom us never to attend to such like, 
though they seem to say what is true. For it would be 
unseemly that we who possess the Holy Scriptures and 
freedom by gift from the Saviour should be taught by the 
devil, who kept not his own place and took up another 
mind. Therefore he forbids him when using words from 
the Scriptures, saying, ' To the sinner God hath said, Why 
dost thou declare My justice, and take My covenant iu 
thy mouth?' (Ps. xlix. lo). For thus they do, and talk, 
and make confusion, and practise hypocrisy, and disturb, to 
deceive the simple. They make noises, and laugh foolishly, 
and hiss, and if not attended to, they shed tears and 
lament as being beaten. 

" Now the Lord, as being God, silenced the demons, but 
we, as being taught by the saints, should do as they did, 
and imitate their fortitude. For they, when they saw 
these things, would say, * I have set a guard to my mouth 
when the sinner stood against me : I was dumb, and was 
humbled, and kept silence from good things ' (Ps. xxxviii. 
2); and again, ' But I as a dead man heard not, and as a 
dumb man not opening his mouth ; and I became as a man 
that heareth not' (Ps. xxxvii. 14). So we should neither 
hear them, as if we were foreigners, nor listen to them 
though they wake us for prayer, though they speak about 
fasting. Eather, we should follow steadfastly our own 
ascetic purpose, and not be deceived by them who do every- 
thing fraudfully. But we should not fear them, though 
they seem to assault us, even if they threaten us with 
death. For they are poweiless, and can do nothing except 

" I have hitherto spoken transiently about this, but now 
I must not hesitate to speak with greater breadth, for the 
remembrance will be a protection to you. When our 


Lord caine among us, the enemy fell and his powers were 
weakened. For this it is that, having no power, yet being 
a tyrant, though fallen, he is not quiet, but threatens, 
though he can only use words. Let every one of you 
consider this, and he can despise the demons. Now if they 
were confined in such bodies as we are, they might say, 
We do not find men, because they conceal themselves ; if 
we found them, we should hurt them. And we should be 
able by concealing ourselves to escape them, shutting the 
doors against them. But if they are not so, but are able to 
enter though the doors are shut, and if they and the devil, 
their chief, are in all the air, and they are of evil will and 
ready to hurt, as the Saviour said, ' The devil, the father of 
malice, is a murderer from the beginning,' and now we are 
alive, and our mode of life is especially against him, it is 
plain they have no strength. For the place does not 
prevent their plotting. Nor do they see us to be their 
friends, that they should spare us ; nor are they lovers of 
the good, that they should correct them. But they are 
malignant, and are anxious for nothing so much as to hurt 
those who cherish virtue and worship God. But because 
they can do nothing, for this they do nothing, or only 
threaten. For if they had the power, they would not wait, 
but would do the evil at once, having a purpose ready for 
this, and most of all against us. See now, we meet 
together and speak against them, and they know that if 
we advance they are powerless. If, then, they had the 
authority, they would leave no one of us Christians alive ; 
for piety is the sinners abomination. But since they have 
no power, they rather wound themselves, for they can 
execute none of their threats. For this also we should 
consider, in order not to fear them. If the power to act 
were theirs, they would not come with tumult, nor make 
appearances nor deceive with transformations. But it would 
be sufficient for a single one to come and do what he was 
willing and able to do. And particularly because every 
one who has authority does not kill with appearances nor 
frighten with tumults, but uses his authority immediately 
as he wills. But the demons, having no power, are like 
actors on a stage, changing their figures, and frightening 



children by the appearance of a multitude and their dress- 
ings up. Whence they should be the more coutemptible 
as being powerless. The real angel sent by the Lord against 
the Assyrians had no need of tumult, nor of external 
appearances, nor of noises, nor of applause ; but he quietly 
used his authority, and killed at once a hundred and 
eighty-five thousand. But demons such as those who have 
no power try to frighten by appearances. 

" But some one may allege the history of Job ; why then 
did the devil go out and do everything against him, and 
stripped him of his goods, and slew his children, and struck 
him with a painful sore? Let him reflect that it was not 
the devil who had the power, but God who delivered Job 
to be tried by him. The devil being absolutely able to do 
nothing, asked and received, and did it. So that from this 
the enemy is even more to . be despised, that vnih all the 
will he had not the power against a single just man. If 
he had had the power, he would not have asked for it. 
But having asked for it not once only, but a second time, 
he is shown to be weak and powerless. Nor is it to be 
wondered at that he had no power against Job, since he 
could not have destroyed even his cattle unless God had 
.permitted. Not even over the swine had he authority, for, 
as we read in the Gospel, they besought the Lord, * Send 
us into the herd of swine.' If they have no authority over 
swine, how much more have they none over men made 
after the image of God. 

" We must, then, fear God alone, but despise them, and 
have no dread at all of them. But the more they do these 
things, let us increase the tenor of our asceticism against 
them. For an upright life and faith in God is a great de- 
fence. They dread in ascetics the fasting, the watchin<T, 
the prayers, the meekness, the tranquillity, the disregard of 
wealth and vainglory, the humility, the love of the poor, 
the almsgiving, the gentleness, and above all, their piety 
towards Christ. For this they do everything not to meet 
those who tread them under foot. For they are aware of 
the grace given to the faithful against them by the Saviour 
in His words, * Behold, I give you authority to tread upon 
serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy. 


" If, therefore, they also pretend to foretell, let no one 
heed. For they often foretell the coming of brethren days 
beforehand, and they really come. But this they do not 
out of regard for the hearers, but to persuade them to give 
credit, and so to destroy them when once reduced under 
their power. Hence do not attend to them, but disregard 
them, as not needing such things. For what wonder that 
they, possessing bodies more agile than men, and seeing 
those beginning their journey, they run before and announce 
them. A horseman can anticipate a traveller on foot. 
They deserve no wonder for this, for they know before- 
hand no future event. For God alone knows all things 
before they happen. But these like thieves run forward 
and report what they have first seen. To how many do 
they signify now what we are about, that we have met, 
and are engaged about them, before any one of us leaves 
and reports this. A swift-footed boy can do this, outrun- 
ning a slower one. What I say is, if any one begin to 
walk from the Thebais, or any other place, they do not 
know whether he will walk before he begins ; but when 
they see him walking, they run forward and announce his 
arrival beforehand. And thus these arrive later ; but often, 
if the walkers turn back, the announcers are proved false. 

" So with regard to the waters of the river, sometimes 
they are deceptive. They have seen that great rains have 
fallen in Ethiopia, and they know that the river's overflow 
arises from them, and before the water reaches Egypt they 
run forward and tell of it. Men also could, have done this, 
had they been able to run as fast. So the watchman of 
David, by ascending the tower, saw the runner sooner than 
he who remained below ; and the runner himself told before 
the rest, not things which had not happened, but things 
already on the way and done. So these demons choose to 
labour and signify things to others only to deceiva But 
if in the meantime Providence will so act about, the water, 
or those on the way — for Providence may do so — the 
demons have spoken falsely, and those who listen to them 
have been deceived. 

''Thus arose the oracles of the Gentiles, and so they 
were deceived by the demons in old time. But this de- 


ception came to an end. For the Lord came, who annulled 
the demons, together with their craft. For of themselves 
they know nothing, bat like thieves they spread abroad 
what they have seen in the case of others. They conjecture 
rather than foretell. For if they sometimes tell the truth, 
they are not to be admired for this. Physicians experi- 
enced in diseases, seeing a recurrence of the same disease 
in others, often from their experience conjecture the result. 
Pilots, again, and husbandmen, seeing with their experience 
the state of the air, foretell storm or fair weather. They 
oould not on this account be said to foretell by a divine 
inspiration, but from experience and habit. So that if the 
demons sometimes say likewise by conjecture, let no one 
wonder at them nor attend to them. What good is it to 
the hearers to learn from such days beforehand what is 
coming ? What is the worth of knowing such things, even 
if it be truly known ? There is no virtue in this, nor is 
such knowledge any proof of a good disposition. No one 
of us is judged because he did not know it ; no one is 
blessed for having learnt it and known it. Every one's 
judgment consists in this: if he has kept the faith and 
well ful&lled the commandments. 

"We should not therefore think much of this, nor 
practise for it an ascetic and laborious life, but rather to 
please God by upright dealing. We should pray, not to 
have foreknowledge, nor ask this as a reward for asceticism, 
but that our Lord may be a fellow-worker in our victory 
over the devil. But if we would care at all to know 
things beforehand, let us keep the thoughts pure. For I 
am confident that a soul pure on all sides, and erect 
according to its nature, is able, becoming transparent, to 
see more and farther than demons, having the Lord who 
reveals to it, such as was the soul of ElissBus, seeing what 
was done by Giezi, and beholding the powers that stood 
on his side. 

" When then they come to you at night, and desire to 
tell you future things, and say, ' We are angels,' listen not, 
for they are false. But if they praise your asceticism 
and bless you, do not hear them, nor seem to notice ; 
rather cross yourself and the house and pray, and you will 


see them disappear, for they are cowards, and terrified at 
the sign of the Lord's cross, for by this the Saviour stripped 
them and made them an example. But if they persist 
with impudence, dancing with contortions and showing all 
manner of appearances, do not quiver or crouch, nor attend 
to them as if they were good, for it is easy and in your 
power to distinguish the presence of the good and the bad 
by the gift of God. For the sight of the good brings no 
disturbance ; for ' he shall not strive nor cry, nor shall his 
voice be heard/ But it happens in quietness and meekness, 
so as to breathe joy and exultation and confidence in the 
soul. For the Lord is with them, who is our joy and the 
power of God the Father. So that the thoughts of the 
soul remain in undisturbed tranquillity, so that, being 
irradated, it sees of itself those presented to it. For the 
desire of divine and future things enters into it, and it 
will wish to be joined with these, even so as to depart 
with them. And if some, as being men, fear the sight 
of the good, these with their appearance take away the 
fear by love ; as Gabriel did to Zachariah, and the angel 
who appeared at the divine monument to the women, and 
as He who said to the shepherds in the Gospel, ' Fear not.' 
For their fear arises not from the souVs cowardice, but from 
recognising the presence of superior beings. Such like is 
the vision of the holy. 

" But the disturbed phantoms of the evil breaking in is 
accompanied with noise, echoing, and clamour, like the 
motion of uneducated young men and robbers* Hence the 
soul immediately contracts fear, disturbance, disorder of 
thought, dejection, hatred of the ascetics, listlessness, sorrow, 
domestic remembrances, and fear of death ; and then desire 
of evil things, disregard for virtue, unsettlement of disposi- 
tion. When then you feel fear at seeing any one, should 
the fear be at once removed, and there be substituted an 
inexpressible joy, good courage, confidence, a recovery and 
tranquillity of thought, and the other qualities mentioned, 
and fortitude and love towards God, take good courage and 
pray. For the joy and settlement of the soul indicate the 
sanctity of Him present. So Abraham exulted when he 
saw the Lord; so John when he heard the voice of the 


i&oiiher of God Icarc in exuihadoo. Bat if on the mppear- 
aaoe of mnr cisc^rtasce arse external noise, 'voridlr 
aiiaraiss. tLremi of de&ui. cr tbe ocber indients, be asBued 
Uat it i$ an eril innzmoo. 

'^ Ani hn this too be an iscicatkn to tcq. When the 
K>;2l remains crccrtdsr. it is ti>e vresesoe of enemies; for 
the ce3K>ns do e*x ieaEM>Te the dread of snch things, as did 
tLe great Archang^ Gabriel to Hanr and to Zacharias, and 
be who aoreared to the voaen at the xsonnment. Bat 
lather when they see mrs in fear ther increase the appear- 
ances, to frirriien them the more, and so advance noon 
them and Exxrk. saying. ' Fall dovn ani wos^ip.' So they 
ceceiTed the Gentiles, for they vese esteemed by them the 
gods they pretended to be. Bst the Lcid did noC leave 
as to be deoeired by the devil when He spoke in rebuke 
to one presenting Him snch appearances* * Get thee behind 
Me. Satan : for it is vjittoL T;.on shalt adore the Lotd thr 
Gijd. and Him odr shalt thou serre.' Let the c gafti one 
then for this be more and mere desi^ised br as, for what 
tiie Lord said. He did fcr ns^. that the demons* hearing 

also from as such arords, mar be overthrown br the Lord 

• • • 

who so recnked them. 

" As to the casting oat of demoos. are a::e not to boast, 
cor be lifted up by healirgs, nor to admire him ocbr who 
casts oat demcns, and hold as noVocy b:m who does not 
cast them oat : bat we are to learn the decrree of asceticism 
in each one, to imitate and emolite or to ccnect. For to 
work signs is not oars ; that is the SoLvioar s part. To His 
disciples He said, ' Rejoice not that the demons are subject 
to yoa, bat that yoar names are written in heaven.' For 
to have oar nam^ written in heaven is a witness to oar 
virtae and life, bat to cast oat demons is a pace of the 
Savioar's rift- For so He answered those who t>at their 
boast not in virtae bat in signs, and said. * Lord, have we 
not in Thy name cast oat devils, and in Thy name done 
many miracles ? Amen, I say onto yon. I know yoa not,' 
For the Lord does not know the w^lys of the impious. 
And we mast chieSy pray, as I said l«fore. to receive the 
gift of disc«rming spirits, that, as is written., we may not 
trust every spirit. 


" Now I could wish to stop here, and to say nothing about 
myself; but that you may not think me to speak thus at 
hazard, but be assured that I say it from experience and 
reality, even though I become as one unwise ; but the Lord 
who hears me knows the purity of my conscience, and that 
I do not record this for my own sake, but out of charity 
and for your instruction. I repeat the practices of the 
demons which I have seen. How often have they blessed 
me while I have execrated them in the name of the Lord. 
How often have they foretold the inundation of the river, 
and I have said to them, ' What have you to do with this ? ' 
At times they have come with threats, and surrounded me 
as soldiers in all their armour. At other times they have 
filled the house with horses and wild beasts and reptiles, 
while I sung, ' Some in chariots, and some on horses, but 
we will call upon the name of the Lord our God ' (Ps. xix. 8), 
and they were overthrown by the Lord through the prayers. 
Sometimes they came in darkness, having an appearance of 
light, and said, * Antony, we have come to enlighten thee,' 
and I closed my eyes and prayed, and suddenly the light of 
the wicked was extinguished. A few months afterwards 
they came singing psalms and quoting the Scriptures, but 
I, as a deaf man, did not hear them. Sometimes they 
shook the monastery, but I remained unmoved and prayed. 
After this they came again, and clattered and hissed and 
danced. When I prayed, and, reclining, sung to myself, 
they began at once to weep and cry, as if all their force 
was gone ; but I gave glory to God, who had pulled down 
and made a mockery of their boldness and madness. 

" Once there appeared with state a demon of very great 
stature, and he ventured to say, * I am the power of God ; 
I am Providence. What wilt thou that I give thee V Then, 
with the name of Christ, I spat at him with all my power, 
and attempted to strike him, and I really seemed to have 
struck him; and instantly that huge one with all his 
demons disappeared at the name of Christ. As I was 
fasting, the deceiver once came in the form of a monk, 
having, as it seemed, a quantity of loaves, and he advised 
me, saying, * Come, eat, and cease these great labours ; you, 
.too, are a man, and will be ill.' But I perceived his decep 


tion and got up to pray. This he could not bear, for he 
disappeared, and he looked like smoke as he went through 
the door. How often lie put before me the appearance of 
gold in the desert, only that I might touch it and look at 
it, but I sung him down, and he wasted away. They often 
cut me with stripes, and I said, ' Nothing shall separate me 
from the love of Christ/ and then they laid more vigorously 
blows on each other. But it was not I who stopped and 
annulled them, but the Lord, who said, ' I beheld Satan as 
lightning fall from heaven.' But I, children, remembering 
the apostolic word, * I have in a figure transferred to my 
self,' that you may learn not to faint in your ascetic life, 
nor to fear the appearances of the devil and bis demons. 

*' But since I have become foolish in what I have said, 
receive this also for your security, and to be fearless, and 
believe me, for I am not untrue. Once there was a knock 
at my door in the monastery, and I went out, and saw one 
thin and very tall. And I asked, ' Who art thou V and he 
said, * I am Satan.' I asked, * Why then art thou here ?' 
He answered, ' Why do the monks and all other Christians 
blame me without cause ? Why do they execrate me every 
hour?' I replied, * Why dost thou trouble them?' He 
said, ' It is not I who trouble them ; but they disturb them- 
selves, for I have become powerless. Have they not read, 
'*The swords of the enemy have failed unto the end, and 
their cities thou hast destroyed"? (Ps. xi. 7). N.o place 
remains to me, no weapon, no city. They have become 
Christians everywhere. At last the desert is filled with 
monks. . Let them protect themselves, and not execrate 
me without reason.' Then, being in wonder at the grace 
of the Lord, I said to him, * Thou art always a liar, and 
never speakest the truth. Yet now, against thy will, thou 
hast spoken truth. For Christ has come, and has made 
thee powerless, and has cast thee down and stript thee.' 
When he heard the name of the Saviour, not bearing the 
fire kindled by it, he vanished. 

" Now if the devil himself confesses that he has no power, 
we ought utterly to despise him and his demons. Indeed, 
the enemy, with his dogs, has so many deceitful snares, but 
we, having learnt his weakness, may despise him. So, then. 


let us not fail in mind, nor think cowardly thoughts in the 
soul, nor make up fears for ourselves — such as, lest the devil 
should come and overthrow me, lest he should lift me up 
and then cast me down, lest he should suddenly set upon 
me and confound me. Let us have no such thoughts, nor 
be sorrowful as if we were perishing. Bather be of good 
heart and rejoice ever, as being saved, and reason in our 
minds that the Lord is with us, who routed and broke them 
up. Let this be always in our mind and thoughts, that, as 
the Lord is with us, our enemies will do nothing to us. 
For when they come, they become such to us as they find 
us, and they adapt their appearances to the thoughts which 
they find in us. If they find us crouching in fear and 
disturbed, immediately, like robbers who have found an 
unguarded spot, they set upon us, and urge with an addition 
the thoughts with which we ourselves are occupied. If 
they see us in fear and terror, they increase the terror by 
their appearances and their threats, and so the miserable 
soul finds its chastisement in this. But if they find us re- 
joicing in the Lord, pondering on future blessings, absorbed 
in the things of the Lord, counting all things to be. in the 
Lord's hand, and that the devil can do nothing against a 
Christian, and has absolutely no authority against any one ; 
when they see the soul protected by such thoughts, they 
slink away ashamed. Thus the enemy, seeing Job guarded 
all round, receded from him; but when he found Judas 
naked, took him captive. If, then, we would despise the 
enemy, let thoughts of the Lord be always with us, and the 
soul ever rejoice in hope, and we shall see the snares of the 
enemy vanish like smoke. They will fly from us, rather 
than pursue us ; for they are, as I said, very cowardly, 
always expecting the fire prepared for them. 

''And let this be a sure sign to you in yourselves of 
fearlessness respecting them. When any appearance takes 
place, do not fall prostrate in fear, but, whatever it be, ask 
first confidently, ' Who art thou, and whence comest thou ? ' 
And if it be a vision of saints, they satisfy you and change 
your fear into joy. If it be diabolical, it at once becomes 
weak, seeing a well-established mind ; for it is a sure sign 
of tranquillity simply to ask, ' Who art thou, and whence 


comest thou ? ' So Josue asked the question, and received 
the answer, nor was the enemy concealed from I>aniers 

" In these words of Antony all took delight. The love 
of virtue grew in one man, another was aroused from his 
neglect, others would have a false opinion corrected. All 
were led to despise the insidious attacks of demons, while 
they wondered at the grace given hy the Lord to Antony 
for the discerning of spirits. So there came to be monas- 
teries in the mountains, like tents filled with divine choirs ; 
they sung psalms, they studied, they fasted, they prayed, 
they exulted over the hope of things to come, they gave 
themselves up to almsgiving, they had charity and agree- 
ment with each other. There might you see a country a 
part of piety and justice. Injustice was neither committed 
nor suffered, nor was there any complaint against the tax- 
gatherer ; but a multitude of societies, and the mind of all 
bent upon goodness. A spectator of the monasteries and 
of such order among the monks would have cried out^ * How 
beautiful are thy tabernacles, O Jacob, and thy tents, O 
Israel ! As wooded valleys, as watered gardens near the 
rivers, as tabernacles which the Lord has pitched, as cedars 
by the water-side.' 

" At this time, retiring within his own monastery, he 
increased the severity of his life, daily sighing over the 
thought of the heavenly mansions, desiring them, and con- 
sidering nmu*s daily life. For he was ashamed of eating 
and sleeping, and the other necessities of the body, when 
ho thought of the souls intelligence. Often when about 
to sit down to eat with a number of monks, as he remem- 
iHjroil this spiritual nourishment he shrunk awav, seeming 
to blush if ho wow soon by them eating ; still he ate by 
himself for the IhhIv s need, yet often with the brethren 
aUi\ asliamoil iuiUhhI, but to Ivnotit them by his words he 
would say that all thought should W given to the soul 
rathor than the KhIv. while siMuothing should be allowed 
to it* no\\\wtv. 

" After thi* o«*u«hI the ivr^ooution of Maximinns, (a.d. 
,^io\who« Atitouy loa the monastery and followed the 
martyr* to AJoxaudria. Ho viesii^ to be a maityr him- 


•self, but would not give himself up. He attended on the 
confessors in the mines and prisons. He was zealous in 
his presence on the judgment in court, encouraging them 
to persevere, in waiting upon them in their passions and 
accompanying them till they were consummated. Tha 
judge seeing his fearless demeanour and that of those with 
him, ordered that no monk should appear in the court, nor 
stay at all in the city. All the rest kept themselves con- 
cealed that day. But Antony put on a white dress, and 
stood the next day on a high spot in view of the judge. 
While all were wondering, and the commander with his 
train in arms passed by, Antony stood fearless, showing the 
Christian ardour, for he wished, as I said, to be himself a 
martyr. He seemed like one in sorrow at his exclusion 
from martyrdom, but the Loi*d was protecting him for our 
good and that of others, that he might be the teacher of 
many in the ascetic life which he had learnt from the Scrip- 
tures, for at the mere sight of his bearing many were eager 
to embrace his manner of life. Thus again he followed out 
his custom of serving the confessors, and as a comrade in 
their bonds, helped their needs. 

" When the persecution ended, and the sainted bishop, 
Peter, had been martyred, he retired and went back to his 
monastery, and was there daily bearing witness in his con- 
science, and taking part in the contests of faith. For he 
practised a still greater severity ; he perpetually fasted ; he 
had an inner-clothing of hair, and an outer one of skin 
which he kept to the end, never giving himself the refresh- 
ment of water, even for the feet, not dipping them in water, 
but in case of necessity. Nor did any one see him un* 
dressed, nor was the body of Antony ever seen naked, but 
when after his death he was buried. 

" While he had thus retired, with the resolution neither 
to show himself nor to admit any one, a certain Martinian, 
an officer of high rank, pressed himself upon him, bringing 
with him a daughter possessed. As he remained a long 
time knocking at the door, and urging Antony to pray 
God for his daughter, he refused to open, but leaning down 
from above, he said, * Man, why do you cry out after me ? 
.1 too am a man like yourself. But if you believe in the 


Christ whom I serve, go and pray to Gkxl according to jour 
belief, and it shall be.' Now the other believed at once, 
invoked Christ, and went away with his daughter delivered 
from the devil. By him also many other thiogs the Lord 
did, who said, ' Ask, and you shall receive.' For a great 
number of sufferers, when he refused to open the door, only 
slept outside the monastery, and believing and praying in 
faith, were delivered. 

'^ But when he found himself disturbed by the number, 
and not allowed to keep retired as he wished, being anxious 
lest he should either be puffed up himself through the 
things which the Lord was doing by him, or that others 
should think of him for more than he was, he resolved 
upon reflectiou to ascend to the Upper Theb&id among 
those to whom he was unknown. So he took loaves from 
the brethren, and sac by the banks of the river, waiting for 
any vessel to go by, that he might embark and go up with 
them. While he was thus occupied, a voice came to him 
from above, 'Antony, where art thou going, and why ?' Not 
at all disturbed, but as one accustomed to be so called, he 
answered, ' Because the crowds will not let me be quiet, I 
wish to ascend to the Upper Thebaid, be::ause of the many 
disturbances which happen to me here, and especially be- 
cause they ask of me things beyond my strength.' The 
voice answered, ' If thou ascendest to the Thebaid, or, as 
thou art thinking, descendest to the herds, thou wilt have 
to undergo double as great a triaL But if thou wouldst be 
really quiet, go now to the inner desert.' Antony replied, 
' And who will show me the way, for I know it not ?' The 
voice at once showed him Saracens who were about to take 
that road. So Antony approached them and begged that 
he might go with them to the wilderness. Hiey willingly 
received him, as if to fulfil a divine injunction. He 
travelled with them three days and three nights, and came 
to a very lofty mountain. Under it was a scream of very 
pure, sweet, and very cold water, and a plain outside it and 
a few neglected olive-trees. 

"Antony loved this place as moved to it by a divine im- 
pulse, for it was this which he who spoke to him by the 
banks of the river pointed out. At the b^ inning, then. 


receiving some loaves from his fellow-travellers, he remained 
alone in the mountain, no one else being with him ; for he 
kept to that -place in the future, esteeming it as his own 
home. The Saracens themselves, seeing his earnestness, 
went that way on purpose, and with pleasure brought him 
loaves, and he had also from the palm-trees some slight and 
cheap succour. Afterwards the brethren, becoming acquainted 
with the spot, remembering as children their father, took 
care to send bread to him ; but Antony, seeing that through 
this bread some had trouble and were put out, sparing the 
monks in this also, took thought for himself, and when 
some came to him, asked, them to bring him a spade and 
an axe and a little corn. When these were brought him, 
he inspected the land round the mountain, and finding a 
very small spot suited for it, he tilled it, and as it was 
abundantly supplied with water, sowed it. And as he did 
this every year, he got bread from it, being pleased to 
trouble nobody for this, and to be a burden to no one. 
After this, seeing again some that came to him, he also 
cultivated a few herbs, that any guest might be refreshed 
after that hard journey. At first the wild creatures in the 
desert, which came for the water, hurt his seed and its 
cultivation ; but he gently caught hold of one of them, and 
said to them all, * Why do ye hurt me who never hurt you ? 
60 away, and, in the Lord's name, never come here any 
more.' And from that time, as if in fear of some command, 
they never approached the place again. 

^' He himself remained alone in the inner mountain, given 
up to praying and the ascetic life. Now the brethren who 
came to him besought him that in their visits, at intervals 
of months, tliey might bring him olives and pulse and oil, 
for now he was an old man. And we learn from those who 
approached him in his life there what wrestling he under- 
went, as it is written, not against flesh and blood, but against 
the demons who resisted him. For they heard there tumults, 
and many voices, and blows, as of arms, and they saw the 
mountain by night becoming full of wild beasts ; they also 
beheld him fighting, as it were, against visible foes, and 
praying against them. Now he encouraged those that came 
to him, while he contended himself, bending his knees and 


praying to the Lord. And it was truly a spectacle of 
wonder that, being alone in such a desert, he was neither 
fluttered by the assaulting demons nor feared the savage* 
ness of so many quadrupeds and reptiles, but in truth, as it 
is written, trusted in the Lord as on Mount Sion, unshaken 
and undisturbed iu mind, so that the demons rather fled 
and savage beasts kept peace with him. 

"Now the devil, as David sings, watched Antony, and 
gnashed his teeth upon him, but Antony was consoled by 
the Saviour, remaining unhurt by the other's craft and all 
his many deceits. But while he lay awake in the night, 
the devil set upon him wild beasts. All the hyenas seemed 
in that desert to come out of their caverns and encircle him, 
and he in the midst of them, each of them with open mouth 
threatening to devour him. But perceiving the enemy's 
art, he said to them all, * If you have received power over 
me, I am ready to be devoured by you ; but if you are put 
here by demons, wait not, but depart, for I am Christ's 
servant.* At these words of Antony they fled, as pursued 
by the scourge of the word. 

"A few days after, as he was working, for he would 
not do without work, some one standing at the door pulled 
the string he was plaiting, for he was making baskets, wliich 
he gave to those who came in return for what they brought 
him. When he rose he saw a wild beast, shaped like a 
man as far as the thighs, with the legs and feet of an ape. 
Antony only sealed himself with the cross, and said, ' I am 
Christ's servant ; if thou wast sent against me, here I am.' 
The beast with his demons fled away so quickly that he 
dropt down in his speed and expired. The death of that 
beast was the defeat of the demons. They tried every- 
thing to drive him out of the desert, which they could not 

"He was once besought by the monks to go down with 
them, and visit for a time themselves and their habitations. 
He went with these monks, and a camel carried loaves and 
water for them, all that desert being without water. There 
is no drinking-water, except only in that mountain whence 
they had drawn it, and where his monastery was. So when 
the water failed, and a burning heat ensued, they were all 


in danger. They went about and sought water everywhere, 
and at last they could no longer walk, and lay on the ground. 
They let the camel go, despairing of themselves. The old 
man, seeing them all in danger, was in great sorrow and 
groaning ; he went away a little from them, knelt, and 
stretched out his hands and prayed, and the Lord straight* 
way caused water to spring up where he stood praying, and 
so they all drank and were restored. They . filled their 
skins, and sought after the camel, and found her, for her 
cord had got entangled with a stone. They gave her to 
drink, and charged her with the skins, and so journeyed on 
in safety. And when they reached the outside monasteries, 
they all embraced him as their father, and he feasted them 
with his words, as one who brought them hospitality from 
the mountain and gave them support So there was joy in 
the mountains, advancement and consolation from their 
mutual faith. Antony himself rejoiced when he saw the 
zeal of the monks and his own sister, now grown old in her 
virgin estate, and the superior of other virgins. 

*' After some days he went back to the mountain, and 
then paany came to him, and other sufferers ventured to 
come. Now he had constantly repeated one charge to all 
the monks that came to him. This was, to trust in the 
Lord, to love Him, and to keep themselves from impure 
thoughts and fleshly pleasures, according to the proverb, 
^ Be not deceived by fulness of the stomach.' Also to 
avoid vainglory, to pray constantly, to sing psalms before 
and after sleeping, to revolve the commands of Scripture, 
to bear in mind the actions of holy men, so that the soul 
reminded of them may be harmonised by them. Specially 
he advised them continually to meditate on the Apostle's 
saying, * Let not the sun go down upon your anger.' And 
this he extended to every command, so that the sun should 
not go down, not only upon our anger, but upon any other 
sin ; for that it was good and necessary that neither the sun 
should condemn us for the day's malice, nor the moon for 
the night's sin, nor simply for its thought. That this may 
be kept it would be well to listen to the Apostle, who says, 
* Try your own selves, prove yourselves.' Daily, therefore, 
let each take to himself an account of his actions by day 


and by night. If he has sinned, let him cease sinning ; if 
he has not sinned, let him not boast, but persevere in the 
good, and not be negligent, and let him not condemn his 
neighbour nor justify himself, as St. Paul said, until the 
Lord come, who will bring to light the hidden things. For 
the things which we do are often hidden from us : we do 
not know them, but the Lord knows all things. Leaving, 
therefore, the judgment to Him, let us sympathise with 
each other, bearing each other's burdens, but judging our- 
selves, and endeavouring to make up that in which we are 
wanting. Let this, too, be observed for security against 
sinning. Let us each mark and write down the actions and 
movements of the soul, as if we were reporting them to 
each other, and be assured that we shall cease from sinning 
through shame of being known, and even from thinking the 
bad. For who wishes to be seen when he sins, or who in 
sinning does not rather practise falsehood to escape notice ? 
As, then, we should not commit impurity in sight of each 
other, so if we were to write down our thoughts as if report- 
ing them to each other, we shall the better keep ourselves 
from filthy thoughts, through shame of being known. Let 
the writing then be instead of the eyes of our fellow-ascetics, 
so that blushing to write as to be seen, we may not even 
think the bad. Thus forming ourselves we shall be able to 
subject the body to please the Lord, and to tread under 
foot the deceits of the enemy. 

'' This is what he urged upon those who came to him ; 
with those who suffered he sympathised and prayed. And 
often, and in the case of many, the Lord heard him; but 
when he was heard, he uttered no boast, and when he was 
not heard, he did not murmur. But he always gave thanks 
himself to the Lord, and invited the suffering to be patient, 
and to know that cure belonged neither to him nor to men 
in general, but to God alone, who does when He will and 
to whom He chooses. So the sufferers received the old 
man's words as if they were a cure, learning, also, them- 
selves a patient i-atber than a heedless mind, while those 
who were healed, learned not to thank Antony, but Qod 

'' A certain Fronto, who belonged to the court, and had 


a frightful malady, for he was swallowing his own tongue, 
and was in danger of losing his eyes, came to the mountain 
and besought Antony to pray for him. Antony having 
prayed, said to Fronto, ' Go away, and you will be cured/ 
But he persisted in remaining several days, and Antony 
continued saying, * If you stay here you will not be healed. 
Go away, and as soon as you come to Egypt, you will see 
the sign which takes place in you/ The other believed 
and went, and as soon as he beheld Egypt, his malady 
ceased, and the man became sound according to the word 
of Antony, which he learned in prayer from the Saviour. 

" A certain virgin from Busiris, in the region of Tripolis, 
had a very terrible and loathsome complaint, for the humours 
falling from her eyes and nose and ears became instantly 
worms, and her body was paralytic, and her eyes contorted. 
Her parents, hearing of the monks who went to Antony, 
believing in the Lord who had healed the woman with the 
issue of blood, besought the monks to let them accom- 
pany them with their daughter. As they declined, the 
parents with the child remained outside the mountain with 
Paphnutius, the confessor and monk. The others went in 
to make a report only, as they intended, about the maiden. 
Antony anticipated them, and described the malady of the 
child and how she had travelled with them. Then, when 
they asked him to allow the others to come in, this he would 
not permit, but he said, * Go, and you will find her cured, 
if she be not dead. For such a power as this belongs nut 
to me, that she should come to a wretched man such as 
I am. This cure is for the Saviour, who works in every 
place His mercy to them who call upon Him. So the Lord 
granted it to her prayer, and His Wing-kindness signified 
to me that He will heal the child's malady as she is there.' 
At least the miracle took place, and when they went out, 
they found the parents rejoicing and the child cured. 

" As two brethren were on the way to him, the water 
failed on the road, and one of them had died ; the other, 
no longer able to journey, was on the point of it ; he lay on 
the ground expecting death. Antony being in the mountain, 
called two monks who happened to be there, and urged 
them to take a vessel of water and- run upon the road to 



Egypt, * For of two who were coming here, one is already 
dead, and the other is about to die, if you do not hurry ; 
for this has been shown to me in prayer.' So the monks 
came, and found one lying dead, and buried him ; the 
second they recovered with the water, and led him to the 
old man ; for it was the distance of a day's journey. If 
any one should ask why it was not told before the other 
died, the question is not a right one, for the decision as 
to death did not belong to Antony, but to God, who judged 
in the case of the one and revealed in the case of the 
other. But this alone was the miracle of Antony, that, 
sitting in the mountain, he had the heart awake, and the 
Lord showing to him things at a distance. 

" Another time, when he was seated in the mountain 
and looked up to heaven, he saw some one carried up in 
the air, and the great joy with which he was met Wrapt 
in wonder at this blessed company, he prayed to learn what 
it was, and forthwith a voice came to him that it was the 
soul of Amnion, the monk of Nitria. Now Ammon had 
continued an ascetic to his old age, and the distance from 
Nitria to the mountain where Antony was is a journey of 
thirteen days. Those with Antony, seeing the old man in 
a state of amaze, desired to know what it was, and heard 
that Ammon was just dead. He was well known, because 
he had often been there, and because of the many signs 
which had been done by him. This is one of them. He 
had once to pass the river Lycus in a time of inundation, 
60 he besought Theodorus, who was with him, to be at a 
distance from him, so that in swimming through the water 
they might not see each other naked. When Theodorus 
was gone, he scrupled further at seeing himself naked. 
While he was thus hesitating, he was suddenly carried to 
the other side. Theodorus, then himself a devout man, 
when he drew near and saw that Ammon had come before, 
and was not even wet, asked to know how he got over. 
When he saw him not willing to say, he insisted, clinging to 
his feet, that he would not let him go until he had learnt 
it from him. Ammon, seeing the persistency of Theodorus, 
begged in his turn from him that he would not disclose it 
until bis death. And so he revealed that he had been 


carried over aud placed on the other side, and had not even 
walked on the water, and that this was not possible for 
men, but for the Lord alone, and for those to whom He 
gave it, as He did to the great Apostle Peter. So Theo- 
dorus, after the death of Ammon, declared this. But the 
monks to whom Antony told the death of Ammon marked 
the day, and when, thirty days after, brethren from Nitria 
came up, they inquired, and learned that Ammon had died 
on that day aud hour in which the old man had seen his 
soul carried up. And both these and the others wondered 
at the purity of Antony's soul, how at the distance of thirteen 
days off he had known it immediately and had seen the 
soul carried up. 

" Also, the Count Archelaus once finding him in the 
outer mountain, asked him only to pray for Polykratera, 
the wonderful Christ-bearing virgin in Laodicea.^ For she 
suffered dreadful pains in her stomach and side from the 
excess of her ascetic life, and was altogether weak. So 
Antony prayed, and the Count marked down the day of 
his prayer; and when he came to Laodicea, he found the 
virgin well. Inquiring on what day her sickness had 
ceased, he brought out the paper on which he had marked 
the time of the prayer, and finding it agree, showed im- 
mediately the writing, and all who read it were astonished 
that the Lord had made her sufferings cease when Antony 
was praying and invoking the goodness of the Saviour for 

^' And in the case of those who came to him, he often 
told it days beforehand, sometimes a month, and the cause 
for which they were coming, some only to see him, some 
for sickness, some being vexed by devils, and all these 
thought nothing of the inconvenience or labour of the road. 
Every one returned when he had received the help. He 

' This epithet would seem to intimate that Polykratera had received the 

^ In seeing things at a distance, in knowing those who were on the way 
to see him, in sensible combats with the devil, in the continual exercise of 
miraculous power, in understanding the needs of those who came to him, as 
well as in the extreme severity of abstinence, traits are recorded of St. Antony 
by St. Athanasius which have been observed in our own days with respect to 
the Curd d'Ars. 


would let no one who heard and saw such things wonder at 
him for it, but rather wonder at the Lord who granted to us 
men the knowledge of Him according to our capacity. 

** As once when he came down to the outside monasteries, 
he was asked to enter a vessel and pray with monks ; he 
was the only one who perceived a grievous and most fetid 
smell. The sailors said fish were preserved in the vessel, 
and it was their smell He said it was of another kind. 
Even while he was speaking, a young man possessed, who 
had hidden himself in the boat, suddenly cried out The 
demon being rebuked in the name of the Lord Jesus Christy 
came out of him. The man was cured, and all recognised 
that the ill smell had come from the demon. 

"Another, a nobleman, came with a singularly horrible 
possession, who did not know that he was being brought to 
Antony. They who brought him besought Antony to pray 
for him. In his compassion for the youth he prayed for 
him, and kept watch the whole night over him. As the 
morning came on, the young man suddenly rushed upon 
Antony and assaulted him. When those who were with 
him were very indignant, Antony said, ' Be not hard on him ; 
it is not he, but the demon in him, who, being rebuked 
and ordered to depart into dry places, has fallen into a 
rage and done this. Glorify therefore the Lord, for to have 
so attacked me is a sign to you of his being cast out.' At 
these words of Antony the young man at once became well, 
and having recovered his right mind, knew where he was, 
and saluted the old man, giving thanks to God. 

"Many other similar things concerning him very many 
monks have said to have taken place. Yet even these are 
not so wonderful as other more wonderful things appear. 
Once as he was sitting down to eat, and rose up to pray 
about the ninth hour, he felt himself carried away in spirit, 
and seemed, as it were, out of himself and accompanied 
into the air. Then certain fierce and terrible ones standinu 
in the air attempted to prevent his passing through. When 
his guides fought against these, he heard questions asked, 
whether he was not subject to them. But when they tried 
to call him to account from his birth, his own guides pre- 
vented this with the words, 'As to what has passed since 


Iiis birth, the Lord has effaced it, but from the time he 
became monk and gave in his name to God, an account may 
be asked.' When they made accusations but produced no 
proofs, his path became open and unimpeded. Then at 
once he saw himself, as it were, come back, standing com- 
plete and all Antony as before. He forgot to eat, and 
remained all the rest of the day and through the night 
sighing and praying, for he was amazed when he saw against 
how many we have to struggle, and through how many 
labours we must make that transit of the air, and he 
remembered the Apostle's words, * According to the prince 
of the power of the air/ For herein is seated the power 
of the enemy to fight and endeavour to prevent those who 
pass through it. Whence it was he urged them ' to take 
up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to 
resist in the evil day,' that the enemy, having nothing evil 
to say against us, may be ashamed ; and we, knowing this, 
should remember the Apostle's words, * Whether in the 
body, I know not, or whether out of the body, I know not, 
God knoweth.' Now Paul was ravished up to the third 
heaven, and having heard unspeakable words, came down ; 
but Antony saw himself to have reached the air, and to 
have contended till he gained his freedom. 

" And again he had this gift. Sitting by himself in the 
mountain, if he was doubtful as to any question, that was 
disclosed to him by Providence in prayer, he was blessed 
to be, in the words of Scripture, * taught of God.' For 
after this he had a disputation with certain who came to 
him respecting the state of the soul and the place it would 
be in after death. And on the following night some one 
called to him from above, 'Antony, rise, come forth, and 
see.' So he came forth, for he knew to whom he owed 
obedience, and looking up, he beheld one, huge and frightful, 
standing and reaching to the clouds, and certain ascending 
as if winged, and that one stretching out his hands, by 
which some were stopped, and some flew above him, passing 
on then, and carried upwards without disquietude. Over 
these that huge one ground his teeth, in those that fell 
away he rejoiced. And straightway a voice said to Antony, 
' Understand what thou seest.' So his mind was opened, 


and he understx)od that it was the passage of souls, anci 
that the huge one standing was the enemy that envies the 
faithful, who prevails over those subject to him, and pre- 
vents their passage, but is unable to prevail over those who 
do not obey him, as passing beyond him. Seeing this 
again, and as one reminded of it, he the more contended 
to advance with what met him day by day. He did not 
tell these things of his own accord, but remaining long in 
his prayers and wondering in himself, when those who were 
with him asked him questions and pressed him, he was 
compelled to speak, as a father cannot conceal from his 
children, esteeming also that his own conscience was pure, 
but that the narration would be serviceable to them, by 
learning that the fruit of ascetic life is good, and visions 
are often a consolation for labours. 

" He was likewise patient in temper and humble in spirit 
For being such a one as he was, he most exceedingly 
honoured the rule of the Church, and considered every 
cleric to precede him in rank. He was not ashamed to 
bow his head to bishops and presbyters, and if a deacon 
ever came to him for assistance, he would talk with him 
about this, but gave way to him in prayer, not being 
ashamed to learn himself. He often asked questions, and 
would listen to those about him, and acknowledged the 
gain from anything good said. His countenance also pos- 
sessed a great and singular charm. He had also this gift 
from our Saviour: if he was among a great number of 
monks, and some one who did not know him wished to 
see him as soon as he came, he passed by the rest and 
hurried to him as if attracted by his looks. Yet he was 
neither taller nor bigger than others, but the man was 
struck by the character and purity of liis soul. For as 
his mind was never disturbed, his outward senses were 
also in repose. His countenance was cheerful because 
of his soul's joy. You might feel the state of his mind 
from the motions of his body ; as it is written, * A glad 
heart maketh a cheerful countenance : but by grief of mind 
the spirit is cast down' (Prov. xv. 13). So Jacob dis- 
cerned Laban's plot against him, and said to his wives, 
* The face of your father is not as it was to me yesterday 


and the other day* (Gen. xxxi. 5). So Samuel knew David 
by his beautiful eyes and his milk-white teeth ; for he was 
never disturbed from the tranquillity of his soul, never 
gloomy in face by the cheerfulness of his thought 

" In faith and piety he was indeed admirable. With the 
schismatical Meletiaus he would hold no communion, seeing 
from the beginning their malice and transgression. Nor 
did he practise friendship with the Manichees, or any other 
lieretics, but only spoke with them for their conversion. 
He esteemed and he avowed friendship and intercourse 
with them to be injury and destruction to the soul. So 
he abominated the Arian heresy, and declared to all that he 
neither associated with them nor shared their evil belief. 
When some of these Ariomanites came once to him, having 
examined and found out their impiety, he chased them 
from the mountain, saying their words were more venomous 
than tl^e poison of serpents. 

** When once the Ariaus spread the falsehood that he 
agreed with them, he was indignant against them. Then, 
at the request of the bishops and all the brethren, he 
came down from the mountain into Alexandria and publicly 
condemned them, saying this was the final heresy and the 
forerunner of Antichrist. And he taught the people that 
the Son of God was not a creature, nor was generated from 
the non-existent, but that He is the Eternal Word and 
Wisdom of the Father's substance. Therefore it is impious 
to say there was a time when He was not, for He was 
ever the Word co-existing with the Father. Wherefore, 
hold no communion with the most impious Arians. For 
there is no communion between light and darkness. For 
you are pious Christians, but they, calling the Son and 
Word of God the Father a creature, differ in nothing from 
the heathen in that they serve the creature rather than God 
the Creator. Believe that the whole creature is indignant 
against them because they number with created things the 
Creator and God of all, in whom all things have been made. 

" Now all the people rejoiced to hear the Christ-opposing 
heresy anathematised by so great a man. They of this 
city flocked together to see Antony. Both the heathens 
and those called their priests came to the church, saying. 


' We desire to see the man of God.' For all so called bim« 
There, too, the Lord had delivered through him many from 
devils, and from mental complaints. Many heathens also 
wished but to touch the old man, trusting for benefit from 
it. In those few days as many became Christians as would 
be seen in a whole year. Then, as some thought he was 
disturbed by such numbers, and tried to prevent any 
approaching him, he said, quite undisconcerted, ' These are 
not more than the demons whom we fi^ht with in the 

The time of this visit of Antony to Alexandria is marked 
as after the accession of the writer to the patriarchate, 
which occurred in A.D. 328, by the following words: "Ad 
we were attending on him at his departure, and had 
reached the gates, a woman cried out behind, * Wait, man 
of God ; my daughter is terribly disturbed by a demon. 
Wait, I beseech you, lest in running after you I perish.' 
When the old man heard it, at our request he willingly 
waited. As the woman reached us, the child was thrown 
on the ground. Antony prayed, and on his naming Christ, 
the unclean spirit went out of the child and she rose up 
cured. The mother blessed God, and all gave thanks, and 
he went away rejoicing, as to his own home. 

"He was also very wise, and it was remarkable that, 
without having had a school education,^ he was a ready- 
witted and understanding man. Once two Greek philo- 
sophers came to him, thinking they could try Antony. He 
was in the outer mountain. He knew the men by their 
look, came out to them, and said by an interpreter, * Why 
take you so much trouble, philosophers, for a fool ? * They 
replied that he was not a fool, but an extremely wise man. 
He rejoined, * If you came to see a fool, your labour was 
thrown away. If you think me a wise man, be as I am. 
Good things should be imitated. If I had come to you, 
I should have followed your example; but if you have 
come to me, be as I am. For I am a Christian.* They 
retired in astonishment, for they saw the demons also fear- 
in^x Antonv. 

" Some more like these came to him in the outer moun- 

^ ypdfifxara fx^ fiaOwp, 


tain, thinkiug to make a mock of him, as Le did not know 
letters. Antony said to them, * Which do ye consider the 
first, mind or letters ? or which is the cause of the other — 
mind of letters, or letters of mind?' They replied, * Mind 
was first, and the inventor of letters/ Then Antony said, 
* He who has a sound mind has no need of letters.' This 
struck both the bystanders and the philosophers. They 
went away wondering to see such understanding in an 
untaught man, for he had not an uncultivated character as 
one nurtured in the mountain and grown an old man there, 
but he was at once graceful and urbane. His language was 
seasoned with heavenly salt, so that no one felt a grudge 
towards him, but all that came to see him took pleasure in 

" Yet besides these, others also came of those who in the 
repute of the Greeks are wise, and they asked of him an 
account of our faith in Christ ; and as they attempted to 
reason about the preaching of the divine cross, in the wish 
to mock at it, Antony, pausing a little, and first pitying 
them in their ignorance, spoke through an interpreter, who 
rendered his meaning well * Which is better, to confess 
the cross, or to ascribe adulteries and corruption of the 
young to those whom you make to be gods ? that which 
we say is a certain proof of fortitude, an avowal of the con- 
tempt of death, while yours are passions of impurity. Again, 
which is superior, to say that the Word of God has not 
changed, but being the same, has assumed a human body 
for the salvation and blessing of men, in order that, by 
partaking of human generation. He may make men to share 
the divine and intelligent nature, or to assimilate the divine 
to things without reason, and so to worship four-footed and 
creeping things and images of men, for these are the things 
which you wise men adore ? Or how do you venture to 
mock at us when we say that Christ has been manifested as 
a man ? You who, separating the soul from heaven, say it 
has wandered and fallen from the vault of heaven into a 
body, and would that it migrated only into a human body, 
and did not pass into quadrupeds and reptiles ; for our faith 
asserts the presence of Christ for the salvation of men, but 
you are in error narrating of an ungenerated soul. We 


dwell upon the power and man-lovingness of Providence, 
that even this was not impossible to God, while you assert 
that the soul is an image of the mind, ascribe falls to it, 
and pretend that it is changeable, and finally, you make 
the mind itself convertible for the body's sake. For such 
as was the image, the like it follows that must be whose 
image it is. But when you suppose such things concerning 
the mind, consider that you blaspheme the Father himself 
of the mind. 

" * But as to the cross, which is the better tiling to say ? 
If the wicked plot against it, to endure the cross, and not 
to shrink from any death, how terrible soever, or to invent 
the wanderings of Osiris and Isis, the snares of Typhon, the 
flight of Saturn, the devouring of children, the slaughter of 
fathers. These are the points of your wisdom. And when 
you make mock of the cross, why do you not admire the / 
resurrection? For those who told of the one wrote tlie 
other. Or why, when you mention the cross, are you 
silent about the raising of the dead, the recovery of sight to 
the blind, the paralytics healed, the lepers cleansed, the 
walking on the sea, the other signs and prodigies which 
show Christ not to be man but God? You seem to me 
to be quite unjust to yourselves, and not to have read our 
Scriptures with a fair mind. But read them for yourselves, 
and see that the actions of Christ demonstrate Him for God, 
who came among us for the salvation of men. 

" ' Now tell us yourselves what belongs to you. Of things 
without reason, what ? that they are reasonless or savage ? - 
If, as I hear, you would like to say that these things are 
spoken mythically by you, that you turn the rapt of Pro-, 
serpine into an allegory of the earth, make the lameness of 
Vulcan to be fire, Herd to signify the air, and Apollo the ' 
sun, and Artemis the moon, and Poseidon the sea, not the 
less you are not worshipping Him as God, but you serve the 
creature rather than pay God the service of His creation ; 
for if you have put such things together because the creature 
is beautiful, you should have gone only far enough for admi- 
ration, and not turned things made into God, lest you should 
give the honour of the Maker to what is made. Otherwise 
you transfer the honour of the architect to the house he 


has built, or that of the general to the soldier of the line. 
What do you say to this, that we may know whether there 
is any ridicule in the cross ? ' 

"As they were disconcerted and twisted themselves about, 
Antony smiling said again through the interpreter, ' These 
things are evident at first sight; but since you would rather 
trust in argument, and as you profess this art, would wish 
us also not to worship God without argumentative proof, 
tell us yourselves how are facts, and especially the know- 
ledge of God, accurately distinguished ? Is it by proof from 
words or from the operation of faith ? And which is first, 
faith by operation or demonstration by argument ? ' They 
answered that faith by operation is the first, and that this is 
accurate knowledge. Antony said, *Well answered; for 

faith arises fr om th e dispp3ition _oC_the. soujj but reasoning 
is from the artof those who compose it. To those, then, 
who have the operation of faith, proof by arguments is not 
necessary, or rather superfluous. For that which we per- 
ceive by faith you attempt to establish by argument, and 
often you are not able to express what we understand, so 
that operation by faith is better and firmer than your sophis- 
tical arguments. 

" * Certainly we Christians do not hold the mystery in the 
wisdom of Greek arguments, but in the power of faith sup- 
plied to us through Jesus Christ from God. And that my 
word is true, see we that have not learnt letters believe in 
God, knowing by His works His providence over all, and 
that our faith is operative ; see now we rest upon faith in 
Christ, and you upon sophistical contests of words, and the 
phantoms of images disappear among you, but faith among 
us extends itself on every side ; and you by syllogisms and 
sophistry do not change Christians to heathenism, while we, 
teaching faith in Christ, strip bare your superstition, while 
all Christians recognise Christ for God and the Son of God.l 
You, with all your eloquence, do not prevent the teaching \ 
of Christ, while we with the mere name of Christ crucified ^ 
chase away all demons whom you dread as gods. And 
where the sign of the cross takes place, magic is powerless 
and spells do not work. 

" ' Say, at least, where now are your oracles ? where are 


the Egyptian enchantments ? where are magical appear- 
ances ? when have all these stopped or become powerless 
except when the cross of Christ came ? Is it then worthy 
to be jested on, or are the things annulled and convicted 
by it of weakness worthy of this ? It is strange, again, that 
of your things nothing has ever been persecuted, but is 
honoured by men from city to city, while those who are 
Christ's are persecuted, and yet our affairs flourish and 
increase beyond yours. Yours, while celebrated and ap- 
plauded, perish away, but the faith and doctrine of Christ, 
mocked by you and persecuted often by emperors, has filled 
the world. For when has the knowledge of God so shone 
forth, or when has temperance and the virtue of virginity 
been so bright, or when has death been met with such 
contempt except since the cross of Christ came t No one 
doubts of this when he sees the martyrs for Christ's sake 
despising death, when he sees the virgins in the churches 
preserving their persons in purity and spotlessness for 
Christ's sake ? 

"'And these proofs are sufficient to show that faith in 
Christ alone is true religion, but you are entirely without 
faith when you seek out arguments in words. We prove, ' 
as our Master said, not in persuasive words of Greek wisdom, 
but we persuade by faith, which manifestly anticipates any 
verbal apparatus. See, there are here those suffering 
possession.' These were some who had come to him dis- 
turbed by devils ; and leading them into the middle, lie 
said, * Either do you deliver them by your syllogisms, or, ' 
if you will, by art or magic, invoking your own images, or 
if you are unable, take up the battle against us, and you 
shall behold the power of the cross of Christ.' With these 
words he invoked Christ, he sealed the sufferers with the 
sign of the cross a second and a third time, and immedi- 
ately the men stood sound in their right mind and thanking 
the Lord. Those called philosophers were astonished and 
truly struck dumb by the understanding of the man and 
by the sign which had taken place. But Antony said, 
* Why are you astonished at this ? It is not we who have 
done it, but Christ, who through those that believe does 
it. Do you then believe, and you will see that it is not 


^rt of words wliich is with us, but faith through love work- 
ing in Christ, which, if you also were to possess, you will 
no longer seek verbal arguments, but will deem faith in 
Christ self-sufficient/ These were Antony's words, and 
they, admiring him in this also, retired, saluting him and 
acknowledging their obligations to him. 

" The fame of Antony reached even to the emperors, for 
the Emperor Constantino and his sons, the Emperors Con- 
stantius and Constans, hearing what he did, wrote to him 
as to a father, and desired to receive an answer from him ; 
but he did not make much of writings, nor took pleasure in 
their letters. He was the same as he was before the em- 
perors wrote to him. But when the letters were brought to 
him, he called the monks and said, 'Do not be surprised 
if the emperors write to us ; it is a man after all ; but 
rather be surprised that God has written His law for men, 
and has spoken to us by His own Son.' He wished then 
not to receive the letters, saying he did not know how to 
answer such things ; but being urged by the monks that 
the emperors were Christians, and that if disregarded they 
would be oflFended, he allowed them to be read and replied, 
accepting them as adoring Christ, and gave them precepts 
for their salvation — not to value greatly present things, but 
rather to remember the judgment to come, and to know 
that Christ is the only true and eternal king, and invited 
them to be humane and to be solicitous for justice and the 
poor. They graciously received what he said. So was he 
acceptable to all, and all esteemed him as a father." 

The Emperor Constantino died in the year 337, nineteen 
years before Antony ended his long life of 105 years. 
The visit of Antony to Alexandria, mentioned above, when 
Athanasius, as archbishop, attended him on leaving to the 
gate of the city, and witnessed the healing of the poor 
woman's child by his invocation of Christ, must have taken 
place before the first banishment of the archbishop by 
Constantino into Gaul. And Antony's declaration against 
tlie Arians, with the invitation received from the bishops to 
come for that purpose, might well indicate the troubles raised 
by the faction of Eusebius. 

" Being thus well known, and answering those who cam€ 


to him in such a manner, he returned back to the inner 
mountain and continued his accustomed ascetic life. And 
often as he sat with those who came to him or walked 
with them, he became dumb, as is written of Daniel. The 
hour being past he continued to converse with the brethren. 
Those present were aware that he beheld a vision; for 
when in the mountain he often saw events which were 
taking place in Egypt, and told them to Bishop Serapion, 
who was there, and saw Antony absorbed in the vision. 
Sometimes when seated at work he became as it were in 
ecstasy, and broke constantly into groans at what he saw. 
Then after an hour he turned to those present, groaned, 
fell into trembling, prayed, and bending his knees, remained 
so long. Tiien the old man rose up and wept. Those 
present fell into trembling, and in great alarm besought 
him to tell them what it was, and they urged him much 
until he was compelled to speak. Then, with a deep 
groaning he cried, * My children, it were better to die before 
the things I behold take place.' To their further requests 
he said, weeping, * Wrath is about to fall upon the Church, 
and it is about to be given up to men like to brute beasts. 
For I beheld the table of the Lord's house, and mules 
standing in a circle all about it, and so kicking all that 
was within it as would happen with disorderly beasts lanc- 
ing out their heels. You must have heard how I groaned, 
for I heard a voice saying, " My altar shall be profaned." ' 
This is what the old man saw, and two years afterwards 
the assault of the Arians took place, and the plundering 
of the churches, when they seized on the sacred vessels by 
force, and caused them to be carried by heathens, and com- 
pelled the heathens from their workshops to attend their 
meetings, and in their presence committed on the table 
what deeds they chose. Then we all understood that the 
kicking of the mules signified before the event to Antony 
what the Arians are now doing in defiance of reason, as 
if they were cattle. But after seeing this sight he called 
tiiose with him and said, * Children, do not lose courage. 
For as the Lord has been angry, so will He heal. And 
quickly again will the Church recover her own order, and 
shine as usual, and you shall see those who have been 


cast out restored, aud impiety retreating into its own lair, 
and the holy faith speaking publicly everywhere in full, 
freedom. Only do not pollute yourselves with the Arians, 
for their teaching is not that of the apostles, but the 
teaching of demons and of their father the devil ; it is 
rather without a parent, without reason, and of no sound 
mind, like the absurdity of mules.' 

" Such were the acts of Antony ; but we should not dis- 
believe that so many miracles have been done through a 
man. For it is the promise of our Saviour in the words, 
* If you have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, you shall say 
to this mountain. Remove from hence, and it shall remove ; 
and nothing shall be impossible to you, and again, Amen, 
Amen, I say unto you, if you ask the Father anything in 
My name. He shall give it you. Ask, and you shall 
receive ; ' and it is He who says to His disciples and to all 
that believe on Him, * Heal the sick, cast out demons ; 
freely you have received, freely give/ 

" Antony then did not heal by commanding, but by 
praying and naming Christ, so that it was plain to all that 
it was not he who did it, but the Lord, who through Antony 
was showing His love to man, and healing the sufferers. 
Antony's was the prayer and the ascetic life, for which he 
sat in the mountain and rejoiced at the sight of divine 
things, but was vexed at being often disturbed and drawn 
into the outer mountain. For all judges claimed to bring 
him down from the mountain, since it was not possible for 
them to enter in there, as those who were on their trial 
followed them. They claimed, however, that he should 
come, if only they might see him. Now he turned away 
from this, and tried to evade going to them. But they 
insisted, and set forward in charge of soldiers those who 
were under their charge, that he might come down, if only 
for the excuse of these. Thus enduring constraint and 
seeing them in lamentation, he came into the outer moun- 
tain. Yet the inconvenience he was put to was not 
without fruit. For his coming was an advantage and a 
benefaction to many. And the judges he helped by advis- 
ing them to prefer justice to everything, and to fear God, 
and to know that with what justice they judge they shall 


be judged. But he loved his stay in the mountain more 
than anything. 

"Once, then, suffering such compulsion of those who were 
in need, and the commander having many times urged him 
to come down, he came and wished to return, after a few 
words touching on salvation and for tliose in need. But he 
who is called Duke begged him to remain awhile ; he said 
he was unable to stay with them, and he used a graceful 
image to express this. * As fishes kept long out of water 
on the diy ground die, so monks lingering with you and 
loitering lose their strength. So the fish must hasten back 
to the sea, and we to the mountain. If we stay behind, 
we may forget what is within.' When the general heard 
this and many other things from him, he wondered and 
said, ' Truly this is the servant of God, for how can a 
private man have so great an understanding unless he were 
beloved by God ? ' 

'' There was a certain commander named Balacius, who 
bitterly persecuted us Christians through his zeal for those 
unhappy Arians. And he was so cruel that he beat virgins, 
and stripped and scourged monastics. Antony sent to him 
and wrote a letter after this sort : * I see wrath coming upon 
thee. Cease then to persecute Christians, lest the wrath 
seize upon thee, for it is just on the point to reach thee.' 
Balacius with a laugh threw the letter on the ground and 
spat on it, and insulted the bearers of it, bidding them to 
take this answer to Antony, ' Since thou carest about monks, 
I am just coming after thee.* And before five days were 
over the wrath came upon him. For Balacius had gone out 
with Nestorius, the Prefect of Egypt, to the first mansion in 
Alexandria, and both were mounted on horseback. They 
both rode private horses of Balacius, the most gentle that 
he had. But before they had reached the spot, the horses 
began, according to their wont, to play with each other. 
And suddenly the gentler of the two, ridden by Nestorius, 
dismounted Balacius with a bite, and fell upon him, and so 
tore his thigh with his teeth, that he was immediately car- 
ried into the city, and died in three days. And all wondered 
that what Antony had foretold was rapidly fulfilled. 

" Such was his admonition to the cruel, but he so advised 


the rest who came to him that, forgetting beside it lawyer's 
work, they blessed those who retired from the life of the 
world. But for those who were wronged he so espoused 
their cause as if not others but himself was their sufferer. 
And, again, he was sufficient to help all, so that many 
soldiers and possessors of large means cast aside the bur- 
dens of life and became monks. In a word, he was given 
by God to Egypt for a physician. Who came in sorrow to 
him and did not leave rejoicing ? Who came weeping for 
his dead and did not at once put aside his mourning ? 
Who came in anger and was not changed to friendship ? 
Who met him in the gloom of poverty, and, when he heard 
and saw him, did not despise wealth and take consolation 
of his poverty ? What spiritless monk came to him and 
did not grow strong under his liand ? What young man 
coming to the mountain, and seeing Antony did not at once 
forsake pleasures and embrace temperance ? Who ap- 
proached him under temptation of a demon and did not 
find rest ? Who came vexed in his thoughts and did not 
obtain tranquillity ? 

" For this also was a great force in Antony's ascetic life, 
that, as I have said, possessing the gift of discerning spirits, 
he knew their motions, and was not ignorant of the bent 
and affdction in each case. And not only he was not de- 
ceived by them, but by addressing those who were perplexed 
in their thoughts he showed them how they would be able 
to overthrow insidious attacks. He described the weak- 
nesses and the craft of the workers. Every one came down 
to the combat, as it were, anointed by him, in confidence 
ngfiinst the designs of the devil and his demons. How 
many girls with suitors, only by seeing Antony at a distance, 
remained virgins to Christ ? Some came, also, from foreign 
parts to him, and these returned with assistance like the 
rest, as sped by a parent. Certainly at his death all felt 
like orphans, and encouraged themselves simply by his 
memory, bearing in mind his advice and his exhortations. 

" What the end of his life was deserves both to be nar- 
rated by me and to be heard, as is your desire, by you. 
For this also was one to be wished for. As was his wont 
he visited, the monks in the outcx mountain. He )ia(i 



been informed by the Divine Providence of his coming 
end, and spoke thus to the brethren : 'This is the last visi- 
tation I am making of you, and I shall be surprised if we 
see each other again in this life. The time is come for me 
also to be resolved, for I am nigh to a hundred and five 
years old/ When they heard it they wept, and fell about 
the old man and embraced him. But he, like one betaking 
himself from a foreign city to his own, spoke rejoicing, and 
charged tliem not to be remiss in their labours, nor to relax 
in the ascetic life, but to live as if their death was that day, 
and, as I said before, to be careful to keep the soul from 
defiling thoughts, and to emulate the saints. But do not 
approach the schismatic Meletians, for you know their 
wicked and profane purpose. Nor have any communion 
with the Arians, for their impiety also is plain to all. And 
if you see the judges patronising them, do not be disturbed: 
for their imagination will end ; it is mortal and short-lived. 
The more, therefore, keep yourselves pure from these, and 
maintain the tradition of your fathers, and especially 
pious faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which you have 
learnt from the Scriptures and often have been reminded 
of by me.' 

" But when the brethren urged him to remain and die with 
them, he would not hear of it, for many reasons, which he 
indicated even by his silence, but for this especially. The 
Egyptians love to bury and wrap in linen the bodies of the 
good dead, but especially of the holy martyrs, but not to 
cover them under ground. Tliey place them on low couches 
and keep them in their houses, meaning by this to honour 
the departed. Now Antony often urged even bishops to 
charge their people about this, and in like manner he in- 
structed laymen and reproached women, saying this was 
not a lawful nor even a holy custom. For even to this 
time the bodies of patriarchs and of prophets are kept in 
monuments ; nay, our Lord's own body was placed in a 
sepulchre and a stone was placed upon it, and covered it 
imiil He rose again on the third day. And by these words 
he showed that an unlawful thing was done by any one 
who did not conceal the bodies of the dead, though they be 
holy. For what body is greater or more holy than the 


Lord's body ? Now many, when they heard this, burled for 
the future in tlie earth, aud gave thanks to the Lord for 
the good instruction. 

" Knowing this himself, and fearing lest they should do 
the same to his own body, he was careful to take leave of 
the monks in the outer mountain, aud went into the inner 
mountain, where he was accustomed to remain, and after a 
few months fell sick. Then he called two who were with 
him, and also lived within, ascetics for fifteen years, and 
who ministered to him on account of his age, and said to 
them, * I am going, as is written, the way of our fathers, 
for I see myself called by the Lord ; but do you watch, 
aud not lose your long time of exercise, but as if you were 
now beginning, be zealous to keep your earnestness. You 
know the demons lie in wait for us ; you know how savage 
they are, and how weak in power. Fear them therefore 
not, but yearn for Christ and trust Him ; live as those 
who may die daily, watching yourselves, and remembering 
my precepts to you ; and let there be no communication 
between you and the schismatics, nor at all with the 
heretical Arians. For you know how I also turned away 
from them on account of the battle agaiust Christ and the 
truth shown in their heresy. But take all pains to join 
yourselves first and chiefly with the Lord, and then with 
the saints, that after death they may receive you as well- 
known friends into their eternal habitations. Think of 
these things, be thus minded, and if you care for me, 
remember me also as a father. Do not let them carry 
my body into Egypt, lest they lay it up in their houses. 
It was for this I entered the mountain and came here. 
You know, too, how I ever reproved those who did this, 
and ordered them to stop such a practice. Do you then 
bury my body and cover it in the earth. And be my word 
guarded by you so that no one know the spot but you 
alone ; for in the resurrection of the dead I shall receive it 
back from our Saviour incorrupt. But divide my clothing, 
and to Athanasius the bishop give one sheepskin and the 
cloak on which I lie, which he gave to me when new, and 
which has grown old with me ; and to Serapion the bishop 
give the other sheepskin, and take you the goat's-hair vest. 


And now farewell, children, for Antony changes his abode^ 
and is no longer with you.' 

" With these words, when they had kissed him, he 
stretched out his feet, and looking upon those who came 
after him with joy, and being very joyful because of them, 
for when he reclined he appeared with a cheerful counten- 
ance, he expired and was added to his fathers. And those 
two burying him, as he had Charged, and enfolding his 
body, covered it in the earth. And no one knew hence- 
forth where he was buried, save only those two. And each 
of those who received the sheepskin of blessed Antony and 
his worn vestment preserves it as a great thing ; for the 
sight of them is as beholding Antony still, and the putting 
them on is as bearing his admonitions with rejoicing. 

"This was the end of Antony's life in the body, and 
such like his beginning as ascetic; and if this be but a 
brief account beside his merit, yet from this estimate what 
Antony, the man of God, was, who from youth up to such 
an age kept with an even tenor his ascetic fervour. Age 
did not subdue him to the indulgence of more costly food, 
nor did bodily weakness make him change the manner of 
his clothing. Nor did he even wash his feet in water. Yet 
in every respect he remained unhurt. His eyes were perfect 
and uninjured, with good sight; he had not lost a single 
tooth : they were only worn under the gums through his 
great age ; in feet and in hands he remained sound, and he 
appeared brighter and more ready for exertions of strength 
than all those who iised variety of foods, and baths, and 
change of clothing. This gave him a great name every- 
where ; all wondered at him ; those even who had not seen 
him longed for the sight — an assurance of his virtue, and 
of a soul dear to God. For Antony became known not for 
his writings, not for Gentile wisdom, not for any art, but 
solely for his piety. No one can deny that this is a gift 
of God. For how was a man hidden in a mountain, and 
dwelling there, to be heard of in Spain, in Gaul, in Eome, 
and Africa, unless it were God, who everywhere makes 
known His own, and who had promised this in the begin- 
ning to Antony ? For though they work in concealment, 
though they wish to be hid, yet the Lord shows them as 


lights to all ; that thus also those who hear of them may 
recognise that the commandments are sufficient for success^ 
and may be encouraged to embrace the way of virtue. 

" Read, then, this to the other brethren, that they may 
learn what the life of monks ought to be, and be persuaded 
that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ glorifies them who 
glorify Him, and not only leads those who serve Him to 
the end up to the kingdom of heaven, but likewise here 
makes those who conceal themselves and earnestly seek 
retirement to be conspicuous and celebrated both for their 
own virtue and for the advantage of others. Should there 
be need, read this also to the heathen, that even by such 
means also they may learn that our Lord Jesus Christ is 
not only God and the Son of God, but that likewise those 
who serve Him lawfully and believe in Him piously as 
Christians, convict the demons whom the heathen them- 
selves esteem to be gods not only to be no gods, but 
trample upon them and chase them away as deceivers and 
corrupters of men. In Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be 
glory for ever and ever, Amen." 



The fifty years during which St. Antony, in the narrative 
given to the Church by St Athanasius, appears as the 
standard of the monastic life, as it was to spring from his 
example, and to be the leader and former of men, were 
most critical years in the history of the Church. His 
death occurred January 17, 356, that is, a few days before 
the 9th February 356, when the Duke Syrianus, by express 
command of the Emperor Constantius, surrounded the great 
church at Alexandria, in which St. Athanasius as Patriarch 
was occupied in worship, with the intention of seizing him. 
He escaped through a scene of sacrilegious outrage and 
massacre, no man knew how ; a price was set upon his 
head, and he remained banished and hunted for his life 
during six years, until the Emperor Constantius had died 
prematurely, and his successor, Julian the Apostate, allowed 
by decree the banished bishops to return to their sees. This 
was in 362. Julian had ordered this in the hope that the 
returning bishops would increase the troubles of the Church 
by their disagreement. On the contrary, Athanasius im- 
mediately summoned a great Council at Alexandria, in 
which he showed a wisdom so consummate, and a charity 
so compassionate, that he was regarded by all with the 
greatest veneration. Julian in wrath banished him that 
same year, 362, to the Thebais; and Athanasius on his 
way thither answered the regrets of those who mourned 
over his banishment with the words, "Be not afraid; this 
is but a passing cloud." In the following June a Parthian 
lance ended the misdeeds of Julian, and frustrated the per- 
secution which would have followed his victory. Athanasius 
returned to his see in 363, was highly honoured and specially 

consulted by the succeeding emperor, Jovian. That emperor, 



who was bent on undoing the injuries done to the Church, 
was suddenly cut off, and his successor, Valentinian, nomi- 
nated his brother Yalens to the Eastern Roman empire, 
which contained the sees of Alexandria, Antioch, and Con- 
stantinople. Yalens, under the guidance of Eudoxius, 
bishop of Constantinople, became an Arian more bitter 
and persecuting than Constantius; he renewed in 365 
the decree of banishment against those bishops who had 
been expelled by Constantius. This was the fifth and last 
banishment of Athanasius, and owing to the great respect 
in which he was held, Valens in a short time allowed him 
to return. 

Thus when, in the year 365, Athanasius published his 
life of St. Antony as one whom he had personally known, 
nay, whose disciple he had been, and of whom he was proud 
to record that he " had poured out water for his hands," he 
was the most renowned confessor of his time, while he was 
likewise the holder of the Church's second see. He had 
been for thirty-seven years Patriarch of Alexandria, and 
before that the chief defender of the Godhead of his Lord, 
though not a bishop, in the first great Council of the Church, 
held at Nicea in 325. He had been banished to Treves in 
335 by the first Cliristian emperor, Constantine, but brought 
back after his death in 337 by the decree of the three 
emperors, his sons, who were said to be fulfilling in this 
the intention of their father. Thus welcomed back to his 
see with the warmest expressions of respect in 338, he had 
in 340 been obliged to leave it again, and fled for refuge to 
Pope Julius, who heard his cause and reinstated him, though 
the ill-will of the Arian Constantius did not allow him to 
return to his see until 346. After ten years he was banished 
again by Constantius ; then again by the apostate emperor 
Julian, and again by the Arian emperor Valens. In these 
thirty-seven years his defence of his Lord's Godhead had 
never faltered, the vigour with which he maintained the 
true doctrine had never lessened, while in conduct not one 
act of weakness could be alleged against him ; he had been 
valiantly supported by Popes Julius and Liberius ; he had 
in his turn acknowledged and maintained their government, 
and their defence of the doctrine he had preached ; he was 


equally esteemed and honoured by the great Pope Damasns, 
their successor. All men looked upon him, as St. Basil a 
few years later addressed him, as the pillar of the Churcli. 
I suppose that among the writings of fathers of the fourth 
and fifth centuries, which are priceless, there is no one more 
valuable than this authentic history of the Father of Monks 
by one whose own position in his day was unique, who knew 
and loved and imitated the man whom he has described, 
and who heralded with his own glorious name, for the in- 
struction of his own day and for the generations which 
followed, the sort of life inaugurated and pursued by St. 
Antony. It is one of those biographies through which the 
grace of God has thought lit to work a number of con- 
versions and raised up troops of imitators. One of these 
may be mentioned, for by this writing the greatest of con- 
fessors and the greatest of doctors touch each other, and less 
than twenty years after it was written the conversion of St. 
Augustine was wrought by hearing the effect which this life 
had produced upon two young courtiers in the imperial 
service, and the life of St. Antony by the former may be 
said to be the parent of the Confessions of the latter, "* et 
quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt.'' 

In the review of the life, character, and actions of Atha- 
nasius given by St. Gregory Nazianzeue in his twenty-first 
sermon, he calls this biography "a code of the monastic life 
in the form of a narrative." We have here not only an 
attestation of the biography as authentic, but the warmest 
praise of its intrinsic value as an exhibition of one of the 
Church's greatest institutions, a praise given by the man 
whose special title among the fathers is to be called the 
Theologian. St. Chrysostom is quite of the same mind 
when he says, ** If any one has not visited those tents, let 
him bear in mind the man who up to this time is in every- 
body's mouth, that great and blessed Antony, whom, since 
the apostles, Egypt has produced. Born as he was in the 
land of Pharaoh, he was not injured, but was even granted 
the Divine vision, and exhibited the kind of life which the 
laws of Christ demand. This may be accurately learnt by 
anv one who falls on the book containing the historv of his 
life, in which he will see a great deal of prophecy. For he 



told beforehand of those who had the sickness of Arius, the 
injury that would spring from it, and saw spread out before 
his eyes the miseries which were to come."^ In our own 
time Mohler has written an admirable life of St. Athanasius 
himself, as well as a treatise on the rise of the monastic life, 
which shows his great knowledge of the centuries in which 
it rose, as well as his esteem for it and his sympathy with 
it. He says, " The scope of this life is to show what is the 
really important thing in the monastic life to which every 
attention must be directed — namely, to use its loneliness 
and its privations for the attainment of something higher ; 
for inward sanctification ; to describe more accurately the 
means leading to this ; to guard against being led away to 
any bypath ; in fine, to show how the monk, though not 
living in the companionship of society, yet may be its 
benefactor." ^ 

It is very instructive to trace the bearings on each other 
of the events in the life of Athanasius and the first appear- 
ance of the monks. It is in his early youth that he acquires 
a personal knowledge of St. Antony, becomes his disciple, 
and as such pours out water for his hands in attendance 
on him. In the year 328 Athanasius was chosen Patriarch 
of Alexandria, and describing in the life one of the visits 
made by St. Antony, records his zeal against the Arians, 
conducts him to the gate of the city at his departure, and 
witnesses the remarkable effect of his invoking the name 
of Ciirist. When Constantine is induced by the deceit of 
Eiisebius to distrust the loyalty of Athanasius and to banish 
him to Treves in the year 335, Athanasius makes his first 
visit to the West, and carries with him full knowledge of 
the life which the Fathers of the Desert, Antony, Pacho- 
mius, Ammon, and many others were leading. By the 
judgment of the three emperors, who had succeeded their 
father, Constantine, he returns to his see in 338. In 340 
the Eusebian party are able to drive him out of Alexandria, 
as they had succeeded some years before in driving St. 
Eustathius out of Antioch, using in both cases the imperial 

1 'AvTwvlov Tou Oeiov ^ov <rwiypa}p€, roi) fxovaBiKov plov POfio0€(ria yip rXd- 
fffiari Siriyfjireun. Orat. 21, 5. GhrysMtom, torn. vii. 128. 
^ Athanasitit der GroBse, und die Kirche teiner Zeitt 2nd edit., p. 381. 


power to work out their own designs. This time Athanasius 
flees to Rome, and brings his cause before Pope Julius, 
whose own letter has been preserved by him, and attests 
that the Pope of Eorae, as sole superior of the Pope of 
Alexandria, was the only person before whom in such a 
case the conduct of the second bishop in the Church could 
be brought, according to the discipline of that day. On 
this occasion Athanasius took with him two monks very 
highly esteemed, Ammon and Isidorus. Ammon, after long 
practice of the monastic life, had become superior of a great 
number of monks in the desert of Nitria, not far from 
Alexandria. In early life Ammon was married, and on the 
day of his marriage he set before his bride the doctrine 
of St. Paul upon the married and the virginal life as com- 
pared with each other; and, as St. Cecilia had done at 
llome with her bridegroom, so he persuaded his bride of 
the suprior beauty of the virginal life. They lived together 
as brother and sister during eighteen years, and finally, 
while he became the head of a large number of monks, 
she became abbess to a house of nuns. It was this 
Ammon, the vision of whose carrying to heaven, as seen 
by Antony at a distance of thirteen days* journey, we have 
found recorded by Athanasius. His stay at Eome, accom- 
panied by these two monks, first kindled in the Koman 
Church the love of the monastic institute. Ammon cared 
so little for grandeur that the only places which he would 
visit at Rome were the basilicas of St Peter and St. Paul. 
That of St, XIary Major was not yet built. Isidorus was 
no less austere in his life.^ Tlieir example told upon the 
Romans, who then first learnt to cultivate the monastic 
discipline. Athanasius, with his companions, was kept 
some time at Rome, while Pope Julius sent two priests 
to the bishops at Antioch, inviting them to come to Rome 
to answer the charges brought against them by Athanasius 
as to their conduct towards him and other bishops. In this 
considen^ble time Athanasius had the opportunity of setting 
forth the life of St. Antony as the father of monks. Thus 
the long sojourn of Athanasius with his two Fathers of the 
Pesert at Rome, brought about by the violence of the 

* See Life of Athana*ia«, by the editor, prt-fixed to his works, p. 36. 


Eusebian party at Antioch, had the result of making this 
new life pursued by the Fathers in the deserts of Egypt 
more widely known. It was carried to the knowledge of 
the West, and to Rome itself, by the very champion of the 
truth which the West, with Rome in chief, most vigorously 
held. And all the persuasiveness which belonged to Athan- 
asius by virtue of his actions, his writings, his rank, and 
his sufferings, served to recommend this new discipline of 
the monastic life which he set forth at this time by word of 
mouth, and by the presence of Ammon and Isidorus attend- 
ing on him. 

This visit to Rome was fifteen years before the death 
of Antony, and twenty-five years before the publication 
of the biography which afterwards spread so widely the 
knowledge of that life, and caused the construction of so 
many monasteries in the West, while it was followed by 
the conversion of so many of the Roman nobility of both 
sexes. This visit was about the time of St. Jerome's 
birth. There is an interval of thirty years between the 
first visit of Athanasius to Rome in 335, on his way to 
his exile at Treves, and the publication of his life of St. 
Antony nine years after the death of its subject in 365. 
In that interval Rome had undergone the fiercest persecu- 
tion of Constantius, who in 350 had become sole emperor. 
He had sent Pope Liberius, simply by his imperial fiat, 
into banishment from his see to the custody of an Arian 
bishop in Thrace. St. Jerome speaks in his letter to the 
noble lady Principia, then a nun, of St. Marcella, the first 
Roman lady of high rank who had embraced the religious 
life, and made, at least in some degree, a convent of her 
palace. In the year 358 Cerealis was a consul at Rome, 
and he had entreated Marcella, when a very young widow, 
after a marriage which had only lasted seven months, to 
become his wife, drawn by the antiquity and dignity of her 
family and her own distinguished beauty. She refused 
him out of love for the religious life, and by refusing so 
eminent a suitor kept at a distance all others. She lived 
to see the capture of Rome by the Goths in 410, and by 
her intrepid bravery to protect and save a young lady 
living under her care. During a long life her example 


wsLS an attraction to many others of the Roman nobility. 
When she began her own religious life, Sl Jerome notes 
that "there was not at Rome a noble lady who was 
acquainted with the monastic mode of life or who ventured 
on account of the novelty of the thing to assume a name 
ignominious, as it was then thought, and vulgar in popular 
estimation. It was from Alexandrian priests, from Atha- 
nasius, and from Peter, who succeeded him at his death, 
when, avoiding the persecution of the Arian heresy, they 
had fled to Rome as the safest harbour their communion 
could find, Marcella had learnt the life of St. Antony 
while he was still living, and the discipline of the monas- 
teries in the Theba'is, of Pachomius, and of the virgins and 
widows there. Nor was she ashamed to profess what she 
knew was pleasing to Christ." The Patriarch Peter may 
have been in Rome about 374. When St. Augustine wrote 
on the morals of the Church a few years later, in 388, 
he offered this remarkable testimony to lives of which he 
had been an eye-witness. This testimony is the more valu- 
able because in it he speaks of anchorets, of coeiiobites, of 
those who are now called secular clergy, and of religious 
houses which he had seen in Italian cities. ''Who does 
not know that a multitude of Christian men of the highest 
continence is daily more widely spread over the whole 
world, and specially in the East and Egypt ? — a thing 
which you Manicheans cannot be ignorant of. I will not 
speak of those who, severed altogether from all sight of 
men, are contented with bread alone, brought to them at 
certain intervals, and water, who inhabit utterly deserted 
places, enjoying intercourse with God, to whom they cleave 
with pure minds, most blessed with the contemplation of 
His beauty, the perception of which is only possible to the 
intellect of the holy. Of these I will say nothing, because 
to some they seem to have given up human things more 
than they ought. Tliat is, it seems so to such who do not 
understand what a help to us in prayer their mind is, 
and their life in example, though we are not permitted to 
see their bodies. It would be tedious and superfluous to 
dwell on this, for whoever of himself does not think this 
extreme height of sanctity marvellous and honourable, how 


could he be brought to see it by my words ? Only those 
deserve a warning who boast of themselves without any 
reason, that the temperance and continence of the most holy 
Christians of the Catholic faith have reached such a degree 
that some think that a check should be put upon it, recall- 
ing it, as it were, to human limits. And this judgment is 
formed by those who, though they do not approve of it, 
feel that these minds have exceeded human capacity. 

'*But if anchorets go beyond our power of toleration, 
who would not admire and proclaim those who despise 
and relinquish the charms of this world, who pursue together 
a common life of the utmost purity and holiness, who live 
in prayer, in study, in mutual discussion, not lifted up by 
pride, not disturbed by obstinacy, not deranged by jealousy. 
Full of modest and quiet consideration for others, tli^yjead 
a life of the utmost concord, intensely fixed on God, an 
offering most acceptable to Him from whom they have 
received qualities so precious. No one has anything of 
his own ; no one is a burden to another. They work with 
their hands what can maintain the body and not impede 
the mind's approach to God. They give their work to officers 
called deans, because they are set over ten in number. So 
no one of them is troubled about his own person as to food, 
or clothing, or for any other such thing, the need of the 
day, or indisposition, as it happens. But these deans, who 
dispose everything with scrupnlous care, and have ready 
whatever that life demands fur the body's weakness, give 
also an account of themselves to one whom they call 
Father. These Fathers are not only most holy in their 
conduct, but likewise very excellent in divine doctrine, in 
everything very high ; they consider the good of those 
whom they call sons without any touch of pride. The 
authority with which they enjoin is only equalled by the 
willingness with which they are obeyed. At the last time 
of day, still fasting, they all come from their dwellings 
to hear the Father, each of whom has at the least three 
thousand, for there are instances of much greater numbers. 
They listen with incredible attention in the utmost silence. 
As the speaker's words aflfect them they give expression to 
their feelings, whether groaning, or weeping, or not disclos- 


ing a moderate secret joy. Then they take bodily refresh- 
ment so far as sufficient for support and health, each putting 
a check on his own desire lest he fall with too great readiness 
on that sparely -given cheap food. Whatever they earn 
more than the necessary food, and this is very much, arising 
from their manual labour, and their great moderation in 
eating, is distributed to those in need with much greater 
care than they have spent in getting it. For they take no 
pains to have an abundance, but they do take great pains 
to keep by them nothing of that abundance, so that they 
send vessels freighted with it to places which the poor 
inhabit. In a matter so well known this is enough. 

** There is also the life of women serving God carefully 
in chastity. These, as is fitting, live in separate dwellings 
removed as far as possible from the other sex, with whom 
their only union is one of charity and imitation of virtue. 
Young men have no access to them, nor even the gravest 
and most approved of old men, who go no farther than the 
entrance, to supply them with what is absolutely needed. 
Their exercise and maintenance is by woollen work ; they 
make clothing for the brethren, receiving back from them 
what is required for food. If I desire to extol such con- 
duct, such a life, such regularity, such an institute, I am 
not worthy to do it, and moreover fear lest I should seem 
to think a plain mention of it would fail to please, if over 
and above simply narrating, I should assume the air of an 

"But the goodness of Catholic life is not so restricted 
that I should confine my praise to the lives of those whom 
I have mentioned. For how many bishops have I known, 
most excellent men and most holy, how many presbyters, 
and how many deacons, and such-like ministers of the divine 
sacraments, whose virtue appears to me the more admirable, 
and worthy of greater extolment, because it is more difficult 
to be preserved in intercourse with a great number, and in 
a life subject to so much disturbance. They preside over 
flocks who may be said rather to need healing than to have 
received it. The vices of the multitude must be suflfered 
in order to be cured, and the pestilence borne before it can 
be stopped. In such a state it is most difficult to maintain 


the best mode of life, and a settled and tranquil mind. To 
explain my meaning shortly, the sphere of the one is laid 
where life is being taught, of the other where it is attained. 

" Nor would I derogate from that laudable race of Chris- 
tians who live in cities yet most remote from an ordinary 
life. I have seen a community of saints at Milan composed 
of a large number. Its superior was an excellent and most 
learned presbyter ; at Rome also I have known several, each 
having a superior of special gravity, prudence, and divine 
knowledge. He rules the rest who dwell with him in a 
life of Christian charity, holiness, and liberty. They are a 
burden to no one, but maintain themselves by their own 
handiwork, after the Oriental custom, and by the authority 
of the Apostle Paul. It came to my knowledge that many 
exercised quite incredible fastings, not taking refreshment 
once a day at the approach of night, which is the universal 
custom, but very often passing three or more days without 
food or drink. And this was the case not only with men, 
but also women, where many widows and virgins dwelt 
together, maintaining themselves by woollen work and spin- 
ning. Each house has a Superior of recognised gravity and 
experience, not only in directing and maintaining good 
conduct, but of ready skill in the cultivation of mind." ^ 

From these words of St Augustine we learn that the 
institute of which the first knowledge was brought to Rome 
by St. Athanasius in 340, which St. Jerome asserts to have 
been unknown and ignominious in popular opinion when 
Marcella introduced it among the Roman aristocracy, had 
become in 388 a well-known practised thing. And St. 
Augustine's own life shows how powerfully it had affected 
his own mind. It entered into his conversion with decisive 
effect The idea of monastic life formed an inseparable 
portion of his spiritual being. His first act as a convert 
was to retire with a few friends into the most hidden 
privacy. As soon as he became a priest at Hippo, he set 
up a complete monastic house. When he became bishop, 
he formed another house of which his own clergy collec- 
tively were members. Hardly any one can be found who 
exerted so great an influence upon his own and subsequent 

^ De dforibut Ecdaice CathoHeo!, lib. L chap. 31-3. 


ages. But not only his dogmatic writings had this effect, 
he also enriched the Church's life with an institution which, 
after all the changes through which it has passed, remains 
to the present day active and efficient. His introduction 
of monastic life into Hippo decided for Africa, his combi- 
nation of the clerical and the monastic life for Africa and 
for Europe. St. Jerome has left us many valuable letters 
describing how those whose palaces were full of images of 
consuls, their ancestors, and whose wealth in many lands 
was princely, had in both sexes embraced lives of poverty 
and self-denial. A few years after the mention of ancho- 
rites and coenobites given by St. Augustine, that is, in the 
year 397, Jerome writes with great admiratioiv to his friend 
Paramachius. Upon the death of his wife, Paulina, herself 
the daughter of St. Paula, he says, " The Church bore to us 
Pammachius, instead of a widower a monk, a patrician by 
the nobility both of his father and his wile, in his alms- 
givings rich, in his humility sublime. The Apostle writes 
to the Corinthians, * You see, brethren, your vocation, how 
not many are rich, not many noble.' The beginnings of the 
infant Church required this, that the grain of mustard might 
grow by degrees into a tree, that the ferment of the gospel 
might gradually raise the whole mass of the Church. Bome 
in our times possesses what the world before knew not. 
Then wise, powerful, noble Christians were few; now there 
are many monks wise, powerful, noble. My dear Pam- 
machius is more wise, more powerful, more noble, than all 
of these. He is great among the great, first among the first, 
commander-in-chief of the monks. Paulina by her death 
has given ns such children as when living she desired to 
possess. Who would believe this that the descendant of 
proconsuls, the lustre of the Furian race, should walk among 
the people of senators in a soiry black cloak, and not be 
ashamed at the looks his equals cast upon him, but meet 
their mockery with contempt. * There is a confusion lead- 
ing to death, and a confusion leading to life/ It is a monk's 
first virtue to despise the judgments of men and ever to 
remember the Apostle's words, ' If I still please men, I should 
not be the servant of Christ.' Something like this is what 
the Lord says to the prophets, ' I have made thee this day 


a fortified city and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass* 
(Jer. i. 18), that they might not hear the insults of the 
people, but subdue the insolence of mockery with the hard- 
ness of their faces. A sense of shame is more powerful 
with cultivated minds than fear, and human respect prevails 
sometimes where tortures fail. It is not a little thing that 
one noble, one eloquent, one rich, should turn aside in the 
streets from the company of the powerful, should mix him- 
self up with a crowd, should be hail-fellow-well-met with 
the poor, join himself with rustics, and from a prince be- 
come a workman. The greater his humility, the greater his 
grandeur." ^ 

At the end of this letter he notes that, as they had built 
a monastery at Bethlehem in order that, if Joseph and Mary 
came there again, they might find hospitality, they were 
flooded with such a multitude of monks coming from all 
parts of the world, that while they could not desert their 
work, they knew not how to support it 

We have seen how Athanasius, first by his personal inter- 
course at Kome, when attended by the monks Ammon and 
Isidorus, had carried to the West information of the monastic 
life pursued by so many in Egypt, and then at a later period, 
when crowned with the authority of a long confessorship, 
published the biography of St. Antony, and made his manner 
of life famous through the world. I have given next the 
attestation of St. Augustine as an eye-witness of this life in 
the cities of Bome and Milan, and one reference out of very 
many which St. Jerome afibrds to its astonishing eflfect on 
the Eoman nobility in his time. I give now a passage 
singularly interesting because it narrates the effect of this 
life on the personal history of one the equal of these three 
great saints. St. Basil, when Archbishop of Csesarea in the 
year 375, that is, two years after the death of St. Athana- 
sius, eleven years before the conversion of St. Augustine, 
and some years before St. Jerome had yet come into notice, 
gives in a letter this account of himself: "Having wasted 
much time in vanity, and lost nearly all my youth in the 
fruitless labour with which I toiled in the attainment of 
the acquisitions possessed by the wisdom which God has 

^ St. Jerome, £p. 66 id Pammachius. 



turned to folly, when at length, like one waking out of a 
deep sleep, I looked npon the marvellous light of truth in 
the Gospel, I perceived the uselessness of the wisdom which 
the rulers of this world, who come to nought, have got, and 
greatly did I lament my miserable life. But I begged for 
guidance to be given me into the doctrines of piety. Above 
all, I longed for an improvement in the moral habit so long 
perverted by intercourse with those whose standard (^oi/Xoi/j) 
was false. When, then, I read the Gospel, and found there 
that the selling of one's goods helped very greatly to perfec- 
tion, and the giving to brethren who were in want, and 
generally absence of solicitude for this life, and the soul's 
exemption from affection for temporal things, I tried to find 
some brother who had chosen this course of life, to pass 
together with him the brief tossing of its unquiet waves. 
Now, many such I found in Alexandria, many in the rest 
of Egypt, others in Palestine, in Coeld-Syria, and Mesopo- 
tamia. I admired their abstinence in food, their endurance 
in labour. I was amazed at their perseverance in prayer ; 
how, yielding to no physical necessity, they overmastered 
sleep ; how they preserved the spirit in its height and free- 
dom during hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, not re- 
garding the body, not spending on it any care, but as living 
in a flesh which was not their own. They showed what it 
is in reality to be pilgrims here, what to have your conver- 
sation in heaven. Admiring these things, and esteeming 
the life of such men blessed, who show in reality that they 
carry about in the body the mortification of Jesus, I wished 
myself, as far as I could, to be the imitator of those men." ^ 
Basil himself was every way as real as those whom he 
thus praises, and whose manner of life so attracted him. 
Twenty years before .he wrote these words, when he was 
about twenty-five himself, he had left Athens, after master- 
ing Greek literature, which he calls the wisdom of those 
who were perverted in their standard of right and wrong. 
Tlien it was that he travelled and saw in the countries 
which he mentions so many religious houses set up after 
the pattern of those in Egypt. His friend Gregory writes 
of that time ; " We had even been advanced by the science 

1 Ep. 223. 


of the heathen in the fear of God, since through the know- 
ledge of the less good we reached the better, and made out 
of their impotence a support of our own belief." Basil gave 
up his profession as a teacher of literature, and followed 
the example of his mother aud his sister Macriua. He 
resigned most of his fortune to the poor, and lived in a 
monastery near his relations with Gregory. They pursued 
the strictest ascetic life, after the pattern of the Fathers of 
the Desert. He founded several monasteries, in which he 
united the anchoretic with the caenobitic discipline. Thus 
he introduced the monastic life in Pontus and Cappadocia, 
and from him dates the Basilian order still followed in the 
Greek Church. In this work a period of seven years passed, 
in which the friends were given up to study as well as to 
the ascetic life, and both became great defenders of the 
Church's doctrine against the Arian heresy. When Valens 
used for fourteen years, from 364 to 378, the imperial 
power in the East to persecute the Catholics, he found no 
more intrepid opponents than Basil and Gregory, and none 
more devoted to the monastic life. 

The character of St. Basil's own life, and of that monastic 
life which he did his utmost to foster, and of which he 
stands out through all the centuries as one of the chief 
supporters, is conveyed most perfectly in his own words, 
which he terms a picture of the ascetic discipline : ^ — 

'* There is honour in the edicts of a king to his subjects ; 
greater and more royal his commands to his soldiers. Listen, 
then, as to military commands, whoever desires a great 
supernal dignity, to be for ever by the side of Christ, to 
hear that great voice, * If any one will be My disciple, let 
him follow Me, and where I am there let My disciple be.' 
Where is Christ the King ? In heaven. Thither, soldier, 
it is thine to direct thy course. Forget all rest upon earth. 
No soldier builds him a house, nor acquires lands, nor 
involves himself in various trafl&cs producing money. * No 
man being a soldier entangleth himself with secular busi- 
nesses, that he may please him to whom he has engaged 
himself.' The soldier has provision from the king; he 
needs not to provide provision for himself. His time is 

^ S. Basilii, daKr/rucii TpoduLrvruxris, tom. ii. 199-202. 


not to be given to this. Everywhere by the king's com- 
mand the subjects find him a house. He has not to labour 
for a house. His place of acting is in the street : his food 
is taken at need, his drink is water, his sleep what nature 
requires. He has to travel, to watch perpetually. He has 
to endure heat and frost. He has to fight the enemy. 
His dangers have no end; the risks of death are many. 
But death is glorious; his honours, the gifts made him, 
royal. The life is laborious in war-time, splendid in peace. 
The honour of his rank, the crown of his successes, is to be 
intrusted with rule, to be called the king's friend, to be at 
his side, to receive welcome, to be honoured by the king's 
hand, to be pre-eminent among his subjects, to gain for 
friends their requests. 

** Well, then, soldier of Christ, take some small example 
from human things. Consider everlasting goods. Set before 
thee a life houseless, cityless, landless; be free, delivered 
from all worldly cares. Let not desire of woman captivate 
thee, nor thought of child; in the divine army that is 
impossible, for ' the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, 
but mighty to Gt)d ' (2 Cor. x. 4). A bodily nature does 
not conquer thee, nor strangle thee against thy will, makes 
thee not a prisoner for a freeman, seeks not to leave children 
on earth, but to carry them up to heaven ; not to cling to 
corporeal embraces, but to desire spiritual, to rule souls and 
have spiritual oflfspring. Imitate the Heavenly Bridegroom ; 
sweep away the assaults of invisible foes; fight 'with princi- 
palities and powers ;' drive them out first from thine own 
soul, that they may have no portion in thee, then from those 
who fly to thee, who hold thee as the leader and champion 
of those whom thy words protect. Pull down reasonings 
that rise up against the faith of Christ ; battle through the 
true doctrine against the impious and wicked argument, 
destroying, he saith, 'counsels and every height that ex- 
altetli itself against the knowledge of God' (2 Cor. x. 5). 
And trust most of all in the King's strong hand, which by 
its sole appearance routs opponents. And when it is His 
will that thou become through dangers valiant, and that 
His own army should engage the army of the adversary, 
then be thou invincible in thy preparation against every 


labour, immovable in spirit against danger. Go readily 
from land to land, from sea to sea ; for He says, * When 
they pursue you, fly from city to city, and when called 
before the tribunal and to stand before rulers, and to bear 
the attacks of multitudes, and to meet the fierce look of the 
headsman, and to hear the harsh voice, and to stand the 
hard sight of instruments of torture, and to be tried by 
torments, and to contend unto death, turn not away from 
all these, having before your eyes Christ, who was in these 
things for you, knowing that for Christ's sake you are to be 
in these things and conquer in them. For you follow a 
conquering King, who wills you to be partaker of His con- 
quest ; for in death you were not overcome, but then most 
completely conquered, preserving the truth for yourself un- 
changeable to the end, and holding unshaken the freedom 
which belongs to the trutL 

" And from death you will go to eternal life, from dis- 
honour before men to glory before God, from tribulation 
and suffering in the world to everlasting rest with the 
angels. Earth would not have you for a citizen, heaven 
welcomes you ; the world rejected you, the angels bear you 
in their arms to present you to Christ. You shall be called 
His friend, and hear the praise so longed after : * Good and 
faithful servant, noble soldier and imitator of thy Lord, 
companion of the King, I will reward thee with My gifts, 
I will listen to thy words as thou hast listened to Mina' 
Y'ou will ask for the salvation of afflicted brethren, and 
will receive from the King for the sharers of your faith and 
the fellow-disciples of holy charity the joint possession of 
blessings. You will be one in those unending choirs ; you 
will share the crown of angels, reigning over creation under 
the King, and passing a blessed eternity together with the 
blessed host. But if it please Him to leave thee upon 
earth after thy conflicts, to engage in still more conflicts, 
various in their kind, and to save many out of visible and 
invisible battles, great will be thy glory even upon earth, 
und amongst thy friends thou wilt be honoured, who have 
found thee a defender, a helper, a good Intercessor ; they 
will cherish thee as a valiant soldier, honour thee as a 
noble chief, grasp hold of thee, and welcome thee with 


joy as an angel of God — in Paul's words, as Jesus Christ : 
such -like are the examples of divine warfare. Nor do 
these words belong only to men ; the female sex also is 
marshalled by Christ for spiritual valour in His army. It 
is not rejected for bodily weakness. Many women have 
excelled not less than men; some have surpassed them: 
of such are those who fill the choir of virgins; of such 
those who shiue in the conflicts of confession and in the 
victories of martyrdom. Not men only, but women also, 
followed the Lord when He appeared, and the service of 
both was performed to the Saviour. Such being the re- 
wards laid up for Christian warfare, let fathers think of 
them for sons and mothers for daughters. Let them bring 
their offspring, rejoicing over the eternal hopes which their 
children will share with them, desiring to have them for 
patrons and intercessors. Let us not be faint-hearted about 
our children, nor fear labours for them, but rejoice for their 
being glorified. Let us present to the Lord His own gifts, 
that we may share the good report of our children, oflFering 
and presenting ourselves with them. To combatants thus 
zealous the words of the Psalmist might be applied, 'Blessed 
are you of the Lord who made heaven and earth,' and as 
Moses prays, 'Bless, Lord, their works, and strike the 
backs of their enemies.' Be men, fight nobly, run fairly 
the course for the eternal crowns in Christ Jesus our Lord, 
to whom be glory for ever." 

We will add here what he says concerning the de- 
meanour which becomes a monk : ^ — 

" First and chiefest of all a monk must possess nothing. 
His body must be in solitude, his dress seemly, his voice 
measured, his word well ordered. He must be untroubled 
as to meat and drink, and eat in quiet ; silent before elders ; 
a listener to men wiser than himself ; he must feel charity 
towards equals ; be of kindly instruction to inferiors ; avoid 
the evil, the carnal, and busybodies. Let him think much 
and speak little ; not be confident in assertion, nor abundant 
in discourse, nor ready for laughing. Let modesty be his 
adornment, his eye cast down, his soul raised up, not 
engaging in contradictions. In temper compliant ; labouring 

^ ru)s Bit Koaft€i(y${u rb^ ftomx^t^, torn. ii. 211. 


\7ith the hands ; ever to bear in mind the last things. 
Rejoicing in hope; patient in affliction; praying without 
ceasing. Giving thanks for everything ; humble towards 
all ; hateful of arrogance. Watching and guarding the 
heart from bad thoughts. Laying up treasure in heaven 
by fulfilling commandments. Examining self in daily 
thoughts and actions; not to be involved in businesses 
and vain talkings ; not to be curious about the lives of the 
negligent, but zealous about the lives of the holy fathers. 
To rejoice with the upright, and not envy ; to sympathise 
and mourn with the suffering ; to grieve greatly with them, 
but not to condemn them. Not to reproach one who turns 
away from sin. Never to justify himself; to confess him- 
self a sinner before all men, in the sight of God and man. 
To admonish the disordered ; to encourage the low-spirited ; 
to serve the helpless; to wash the feet of the saints; to 
practise hospitality and brotherly kindness. To be at peace 
with the household of faith ; to turn away from a heretic 
To read the canonical books ; not to touch the apocryphal. 
Not to question of the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost, but freely to profess and hold the uncreated and 
consubstantial Trinity, and to say to those who ask, * We 
should be baptized as we have received, and believe as we 
have been baptized, and glorify as we have believed.' To 
be well employed in word and deed. To make oath not at 
all; not to lend money at usury; not to make profit by 
dealing in corn, wine, and oil. To abstain from inordinate 
food and drink and worldly cares. To have no part with 
deceit, nor to speak against any one. Not to detract, nor 
listen with pleasure to detraction. Not easily to believe 
against any one. Not to be ruled by anger. Not to be 
governed by desire. Not rashly to be angry with your 
neighbour; not to hold wrath against any one. Not to 
return evil for evil. To be spoken ill of rather than to 
speak ill ; to be beaten rather than to beat ; to be wronged 
rather than to wrong ; to suffer rather than to inflict loss. 

" Especially a monk must avoid contact with women and 
with wine, since wine and women will lead even those who 
understand to apostasy. And one that, to the best of his 
power, is fulfilling the commandments of the Lord must 


not despond, but expect reward and praise from Him, and 
long for the enjoyment of eternal life, and keep ever before 
his eyes the saying of David, ' I set the Lord always in my 
sight, for He is at my right hand that I be not moved.' 
And as a son, with all his heart and strength and mind and 
might, should love God ; and as a servant should reverence, 
and fear, and obey Him, and with fear and trembling work 
out his own salvation. To be burning in spirit, clothed 
with all the armour of the Holy Spirit ; to run not uncer- 
tainly ; to fight not as one beating the air ; to overcome the 
enemy with the body's infirmity and the soul's poverty. To 
fulfil all the commandments, and call himself unprofitable. 
To give thanks to the holy, glorious, and terrible God, and 
to do nothing out of strife and vainglory, but for God and 
to please Him. For ' God hath scattered the bones of them 
that please men.' Altogether not to boast, nor speak 
praises of one's self, nor be pleased when others praise. 
But to do all services in secret, and not for the sight of 
men, but only to seek the praise of God, and to bear in 
mind His fearful and glorious advent, the transposition 
hence, the goods that are laid up for the just, and equally 
the fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels. And 
in all this to remember the apostle's word, that * the suffer- 
ings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the 
glory to come, which shall be revealed in us.' And to say 
with David, ' In keeping His commandments there is great 
reward,' a vast retribution, crowns of justice, eternal habita- 
tions, endless life, joy unspeakable, an indissoluble dwelling 
with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the true 
God in heaven. The manifestation of face to face. To join 
the choirs of angels, of fathers, of patriarchs, of prophets, of 
apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of those eternally pleasing 
to God. With these be it our care to be found, by the grace 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for 
ever and ever." 

St. Basil in all his ways had followed the example of his 
Lord. He began "to do and to teach." Tlie character 
which he has thus drawn out in words he had first accom- 
plished in deed. The woods and streams of Pontus had 
beheld him for years pursuing, with his bosom friend Gregory, 


the labours of the monastic life, with the study of the 
divine science. Borne in spite of himself to the bishop's 
office in a great city, he had shown himself the ruler of 
men ; a quarter of his episcopal city, filled with the great 
structures which he was able to draw from the love of his 
people, bore in remembrance of its author the name Basilias. 
The chief minister of the Arian tyrant sought to overcome 
him with threats, but was forced to admit to his master that 
he had utterly failed. On the death of St. Athanasius, Basil 
became the chief leader of the Eastern bishops. We possess 
from his hand the most startling narrative^ of their suffer- 
ings and their weaknesses. His short pontificate was closed 
before he was fifty, but he lived long enough to gain im- 
perishable glory by his actions and his writings, and not the 
least as the standard at once of episcopal life and monastic 

When Basil and Gregory were students together at Athens, 
they came in contact with Julian, then a prince of the 
imperial family. A few years afterwards, when Julian had 
become first Caesar and then Augustus, had thrown off the 
profession of the Christian faith, and bitterly persecuted it, 
and then, after a short rule of twenty months, had come to 
an untimely end, Gregory in a sermon recording his deeds 
contrasted the heathen greatness which Julian had admired 
with the monastic life which he had scorned.* " See you 
these men who are without the enjoyments of life, who have 
no hearth, who are almost without flesh and blood, and in 
virtue of this near to God. These men who wash not their 
feet and sleep on the ground, as your Homer says, to honour 
some demon by his figment.^ These men, low in position, 
high in thought, human yet above human things, in fetters 
and yet free ; who suffer mastery, yet are unmastered ; who 
have nothing in the world, yet all things above the world ; 
whose life is double, the one life despised, the other sedu- 
lously pursued. They who by mortification become immortal, 
by dissolution are united with God. They who are void of 
desire, but full of divine and passionless love. With whom 

^ In his ninety-second letter, quoted vol. v. p. 231. 

^ St. Greg. Naz. Orat. 4, torn. i. 1 10. 

' Referring to Iliad 16, 236 : Zol vaiowr* irro^f^u di'crri/ro^r, xafiaicvpai. 


is the fountain of light, and they irradiated with its beams. 
Who have the angelic psalmistries, the all-night watching, 
the mind already ravished in ecstasy to God, who purify 
themselves and are pure, and know not any measure of the 
mind's ascent and deification. Who dwell among rocks, and 
have the heavens for their portion. Who are rejected, and 
sit on thrones. Who are in nakedness, and wear the rai- 
ment of incorruption. Who have the desert and the angelic 
company which springs from it ; who subdue their pleasures, 
and have the indissoluble unspeakable enjoyment; whose 
tears dissolve sin and purify the world. The stretching 
forth of whose hands quenches fire, pacifies wild beasts, blunts 
the sword, puts to flight armies, and will even rebuke, be 
assured of it, thine impiety though for a moment thou art 
exalted, and playest out thy fable of wickedness with thy 

Gregory also was a man of deeds as well as words, who 
spent his early manhood with Basil in Pontus in monastic 
severity ; who by his eloquence raised up the sinking Catho- 
lics in his little Church of the Kesurrection in Constanti- 
nople; who, unable to overcome the party spirit of the 
bishops around him, descended from the throne to which he 
had been elected ly them, and spent his last years in 
private solitude. 

The third glory of Cappadocia, St. Gregory, Bishop of 
Nyssa, brother of St. Basil, and friend of St Gregory of 
Nazianzum, the equal of both in rank as author, among his 
many writings composed about the year 370 in solitude a 
treatise on Virginity, or the state of perfection. I tran- 
scribe one of the twenty-four chapters as a passage revealing 
the whole mind of a great Father. The title of this chapter 
runs, " Virginity the special beauty of the divine and incor- 
poreal nature." ^ " Need have we of great understanding to 
know this superlative grace, which enters into the praise of 
the incorruptible Father. Strange indeed it is that virginity 
should be found in a Father who has a Son, and who begets 
without passion. It is comprehended in coDJunction with 
the only-begotten God, the bestower of incorruption, since it 
shines forth as a part of His pure and passionless genera- 

^ St Greg. Orat. 4, torn. i. i la 


tion. Again, a Son conceived through virginity is equally 
strange. It is beheld alike in the physical and incorruptible 
purity of the Holy Spirit. For if you name purity and in- 
corruption, it is another name for virginity. It dwells with 
the whole celestial nature being present with the superemi- 
nent powers through their passionlessness. It is not severed 
from any one of the divine powers, nor does it belong to 
any one of the opposite powers. For all which by nature 
or by purpose tend to virtue exult in the purity of incorrup- 
tion ; and all which converge to the opposing rank are such, 
and are so called, by their lapse from purity. What power 
of words, then, will be sufficient to equal such a grace ? Or 
how should one not fear lest through zeal of praising, injury 
should be done to the height of dignity by imprinting on 
the hearers an opinion lower than their previous conception. 
It were well then to avoid encomiums here, since there is 
no means of raising language to the height of such a subject. 
But it is possible ever to bear in mind the gift of God, and 
to have on the tongue the blessing which is the choice 
peculiarity of the incorporeal nature.^ But it has been 
given by the loving-kindness of God to those who have 
received life through flesh and blood ; so that virginity, 
when human nature was cast down through a constitution 
subject to passion, stretching forth as it were a hand which 
partook of purity, should raise it again and guide it to look 
upwards. For this reason I conceive the fountain of incor- 
ruption, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, did not through 
marriage enter into the world, that He might manifest this 
great mystery by the manner of His incarnation, that purity 
alone is able to receive the approach and presence of God. 
For this purity cannot be reached in absolute perfection 
unless one sever himself entirely from affections of the 
flesh. For that which took place bodily in the spotless Mary, 
when the fulness of the Godhead in Christ shone through 
the Virgin in its radiance, this takes place in every soul 
which, by the direction of reason, maintains virginity : the 
Lord no more makes a bodily presence, for He says we no 
longer * know Christ according to the flesh ; ' but He enters 
in spirit, and brings together with Him His Father, as the 

* TJ rod BtSv Xarpcla ax^iy. 



Gospel says. Since, then, so great is the power of virginity 
as to remain in heaven with the Father of spirits, and to 
exult among the celestial powers, and to take a part in 
human salvation, bringing down God through it to the 
communion of human life, and by it giving man wings for 
the desire of heavenly things, and clasping, as it were, God 
and man together, who in virtue are so far apart, by its 
mediation making harmony between them, what power of 
words can be found to reach this marvel? But since it 
would be absurd to appear altogether voiceless and insen- 
sible, and one of two things must happen, either to seem 
not conscious of the beauty of virginity, or to show oneself 
without touch or motion to the perception of beauty, I have 
been minded to speak briefly about it, because it is my duty 
in all things to obey the authority of Him who commands 
us. Let no one seek from me boastful words. Perhaps if 
I wished to give them it would be beyond my power, being 
inexperienced in such speaking. But, had I the power to 
boast, I should not prefer reputation among a few to that 
which would be of general use ; for one of any sense should, 
I think, seek most of all not the things at which the few 
will wonder, but the things which may benefit both himself 
and others." 

St. Basil, his brother, and his friend, the triple passion- 
flower of their province in the company of Fathers, are 
entirely of one mind in their praise and esteem of the 
monastic life. They have not only the common gift of 
genius, hut they lived the life which they praised, and suffered 
for the faith which they upheld. 

Anotlier name there is in the Eastern episcopate before 
the tMid of the same fourth century fit to range with St. 
Athiinu'^ias, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nazianzan, and St. 
Gregory of Nyssa, one whose youth had been passed during 
Hovoral years in monastic severity, who then became the 
chosen i>reacher of a great capital, surpassing all men in 
his olotiuonco. and who was at last carried away by the 
court ot tho Kast through the admiration which lie had in- 
spired, and a;4ainst his will placed on that dangerous throne 
of tho Ivist. where ho had to exercise spiritual rule in a city 
tho very centre of social corruption, as it was the seat of 


absolute power. It remains to add the judgment of St. 
Chrysostom concerning the life to which he was no stranger. 
He thus enters on a comparison of royal power with the 
life of Christian philosophy : ^ — 

" Beholding that the mass of men love and admire what 
seems to be good rather than what is really serviceable 
and truly good, I think it needful to say a few words on 
both, and to put side by side that which the many neglect, 
and that which they zealously pursue. So, by seeing the 
difference between them, we may value the things worthy 
of our zeal and learn to despise the other as worthless. 
Wealth and power, and rule and glory, are loved. Most 
men felicitate the governors of nations, who ride in splendid 
chariots, are proclaimed by heralds, and encompassed with 
guards, but despise the life of those who pursue wisdom, 
and have chosen the monastic life. When these appear, 
they turn the eyes of the people on them ; when the others 
show themselves, they draw the eyes of none or of very few. 
No one wishes to be like the one ; all to be like the other. 
Yet it is hard, and for most men impossible, to acquire 
dominion and the government of nations. The lovers of 
empire would require vast wealth, while it is ready and 
easy for all to choose the monastic discipline, and to live in 
and by the adoration of God.* And the acquisition of 
empire perishes with this life, or rather deserts its lovers 
while they still live, and has already carried many into 
great danger or disgrace. But the monastic life, while it 
fills the just with many blessings at present, leads them 
after the end of this life, bright and rejoicing, to the tribunal 
of our God and Father, whereas the majority of rulers will 
be found suffering gieat penalties for their deeds in life. 
Place, then, side by side the goods which the pursuit of 
wisdom brings, and the seeming goods of rule and glory 
in this present life. Let us examine the difference of both. 
When they stand side by side that will be more plain ; or, 
if you will, put royalty, the height of blessings, by the 
side of the lover of wisdom; look at the fruits of each 
possession, and accurately distinguish what things the king 

^ St Chrysostom, i. 116-121. 


rules over, and what the lover of wisdom. The king has 
authority over cities and countries, and many races ; at his 
bidding stand generals and prefects, armies, assemblies, and 
senates. He who has given himself to God and chosen 
the monastic life has subdued anger, and envy, and avarice, 
and pleasure, and the other ills. He is ever watching and 
studying not to yield his soul to the dominion of disgrace- 
ful passions, nor his reason to the slavery of a bitter subjec- 
tion, but to keep his mind ever superior, imposing the fear 
of God on his passions. This, then, is the domain and 
empire possessed respectively by the king and by the monk. 
It would, then, be more just to call the latter the king 
rather than the one shining in purple, crowned and seated 
on a golden throne. 

" For he is most truly a king who is master of anger, and 
envy, and pleasure, who brings all his actions under the 
law of God, who keeps his mind in freedom, and does not 
permit the despotism of pleasure to enthral his soul. Such 
a one I would willingly see ruling over peoples, and land, 
and sea, and cities, and assembled crowds, and armies. For 
he who has set reason over the passions of the soul can 
easily use the divine laws to rule men, so that those he 
governs should esteem him as a father, when, with gentle 
sway, he appears in their cities. But he who seems to rule 
men while he is the slave of anger, love of rule and pleasure, 
appears ridiculous to his subjects, as wearing, indeed, an 
inlaid crown of gold, but not crowned with temperance; 
his body shining with purple, his soul devoid of beauty. 
Moreover, he will not know how to manage government, 
for since he cannot govern himself, how can he ^make 
others obedient to law ? And if you would see the battle 
which each has, you will find the one encountering demons, 
showing strength, gaining victory, crowned by Christ; for 
with divine aid he advances to the conflict, clothed with 
celestial armour, so that he must prevail ; whereas the king 
fights with barbarians; and as demons are more terrible 
than men, he who conquers them is the greater victor. If 
you look at the cause of the conflicts, great is the difference. 
The one fights with demons for piety and the adoration 
of God, or to rescue villages and cities from the dominion 


Df error ; the other fights barbarians for the loss of fortresses, 
for territory, for money. Covetousness or attachment to an 
unjust rule is the incentive. Many kings have many a 
time, through a desire to become greater, lost what they 
had. Their government, then, and their wars, show the 
king and the man bent on making the adoration of God 
his life to be thus widely different from each other. This 
would be seen in detail by observing the life of each and 
their daily actions. One would be found conversing with 
prophets, making the wisdom of Paul the beauty of his 
soul, passing perpetually from Moses to Isaias, from Isaias 
to John, from John to another. The king would be found 
in constant intercourse with commanders, and prefects, and 
guards. But the character is fashioned by those with 
whom we have daily intercourse. The solitary, then, is 
already forming his mind after apostles and prophets; the 
king, after generals, oflBcers, and attendants, men given to 
drink, ministers of pleasure, passing the greater part of the 
day at the banquet, which prevents them from knowing 
anything good or opportune. For this also, then, the 
monastic life is to be esteemed, rather than one spent in 
sovereignty and dominion. 

" If we were to examine how the night is spent, we 
should see the monk devoting himself to prayer and adora- 
tion earlier than the birds in song, with angels for his 
companions, with God in converse, enjoying heavenly goods. 
We should find the ruler of nations, assemblies, and armies, 
whose sway extends over land and sea, stretched in ster- 
torous sleep. The monk feeds on. food which does not 
require deep slumber. The king is put to sleep in luxury, 
with potions which keep him in bed to full day. The 
monk is moderate, both in clothing and at table, and his 
comrades emulate his virtue in this. The king must be 
set off with gold and jewels, must have a splendid table ; 
and for guests, if he be foolish, men worthy of his own 
badness ; if a man of sense and temperance, perhaps they 
will be good and just, but far behind the excellence of 
those others. If the king practise the love of wisdom, he 
cannot approach near the high standard of the monk. In 
his journeys he is oppressive to his subjects; in bis city life 


in peace, in his wars he is an exacter of taxes, a levjer 
of armies; he makes captives; he is a conqueror; he is 
defeated. When defeated, he fills those whom he rules 
with his own evils; when a conqueror, he becomes un- 
bearable, boasting his trophies, high-minded, giving his 
soldiers permission to seize, to plunder, to wrong travellers, 
to besiege cities, to sack the poor man's home, to exact 
from those who receive them every day what no law sanc- 
tions, on pretext of some ancient custom contrary to law 
and justice. It is not the rich man whom the king hurts 
by these evils ; it is poverty which he makes suffer, as if he 
reverenced in truth the wealthy. Not so the monk. At 
once, on his appearance, he has something good for both 
equally. He has one garment in the year; he drinks 
water more readily than others the finest wine. For him- 
self he asks nothing, great or small; from the rich, for 
those in want he asks much and often, in which he benefits 
both those who give and those who receive. Thus he is 
a physician equally for rich and poor, healing the sins of 
the one by his good advice, and delivering the other from 
their wants. But when the king lessens the taxes, he helps 
the rich rather than the poor ; when he increases them, he 
hurts the small possessors. The hardness of the taxes 
affects the rich man slightly, but like a torrent he sweeps 
away the houses of the poor, filling the villages with wail- 
ing. Tax-gatherers have no pity on old age, nor widowhood, 
nor orphanage. Their revel is continual ; common enemies 
of the country, they take from the cultivators of the land 
what it never produced. 

" But what advantage respectively are the king and the 
monk to their several subjects ? The one gives worldly goods, 
the other spiritual grace. The one, if he be good, releases 
from poverty ; the other by his prayers delivers souls from 
demoniacal tyranny. If any one be tossed by storms of this 
kind, he passes by the king as he would lifeless objects, and 
flies for refuge to the monk's dwelling, as a man pursued by 
a wolf takes refuge with a hunter though he be sword in 
hand. What the sword is to the hunter, prayer is to the 
monk. Wolves do not fear the sword so much as demons 
fear the prayers of ihe just. And it is not only we who in. 


Our needs fly to the holy monks, but kings themselves in 
moments of alarm fly to them, as in a famine the poor beset 
the houses of the rich. Did not the Jewish king Ahab, in 
a time of famine and dearth, place his hope of preservation 
ia the prayers of Eiias ? Did not Hezekias, who held the 
same sovereign power, ill and at the point of death, seeing 
decease imminent, fly to the prophet, as more powerful than 
death, and having the gift of life ? Even when war had 
broken out, and Palestine was in danger of being torn up 
by the roots, the kings of the Jews, disregarding the army, 
footmen, and bowmen and horsemen, commanders and cap- 
tains, take refuge in the prayers of Elisseus ? For they 
thought that the servant of God would count to them for 
many thousands. Hezekias also, when the Persian war had 
broken out, and the city was shaken to its very foundations, 
and those on the ramparts were trembling and shaking, as 
expecting a storm or the overthrow of an earthquake, the 
king set the prayers of Isaias against the many thousands 
of Persians, and was not deceived in his hope. The prophet 
raised his hands to heaven, and God at once scattered the 
Persian host by bolts from heaven, teaching kings to account 
His servants the common saviours of the land, that they 
might learn, when invited by the just, to reverence their 
advice for every good and merciful action and to yield to 
their admonition. By this we may see the diBerence of the 
two. And further, even should both fail, and the one lose 
bis virtue and the other his kingdom, in this case the former 
will recover himself, and speedily wipe away his sins by 
prayer and tears and sorrow and tending the poor, and so 
before long mount again to his former height. But if the 
king be cast out, he will require many allies, infantry and 
cavalry, horses and wealth, and hazardous chances; and, in 
a word, his hope of safety lies iu others. ' But the monk has 
a speedy hope of safety which follows upon counsel and 
diligence and change of mind ; for. He says, the kingdom 
ofl^^^ is within you. Moreover, death to the king ia 
fJ^^^^B^ie lover of wisdom is painless. For he who 
kli and pleasure and luxury, for which most 
must easily bear the removal bonce. And 
mill utlier were killed, the monk will embrace 


danger for the sake of piety, reaching through death an 
everlasting heavenly life; but the king will have in his 
slaughterer one in love with his rule, and be, when he is 
dead, a sad and sorry sight, whereas the sight of a monk 
who has died for his piety is sweet and salutary. The monk 
will have many lovers and imitators of his good things, many 
disciples praying to be like him ; the king will spend many 
words in praying to God that no one may arise in love with 
his kingdom. No one would wish to kill the one, deeming 
it an impiety against God if he were to kill such a man, but 
many destroyers beset the other, in love with unbounded 
power. The one has a guard of soldiers ; the other, fearing 
no man, fortifies cities with prayer. The king has fear and 
dread of murder for the companion of his life, for he bears 
about with him danger in the coveting of others, as the 
monk bears a fearless security. This is sufficient for their 
state in this life. If we would look farther into the future 
conflict, we shall see the one carried bright and conspicuous 
into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, after the pattern 
of the leader and institutorof this life, which bears salvation 
and all virtue ; but the king, should he have administered 
his rule with justice and loving-kindness, which is a great 
raritv, will have salvation with a lower rank of honour. 
For it is not equal to be a good king, and to be a monk 
living with the highest adoration of God. But if he should 
appear to have been wicked and malevolent, one who has 
filled his land with many evils, who can expresa the miseries 
which he will be seen to have met, burning, scourged and 
tortured, suffering things unspeakable, unendurable. When 
we think over and know all this, we should not admire 
the rich, for he that has been the lord of these cannot the 
least approach the virtue of the monk. When, then, you 
see a rich man in magnificent clothing, arrayed in gold, 
borne in a chariot in stately procession, do not think him 
liappy. The wealth is transitory, the seeming splendour 
perishes with tliis life. When you see the monk walking 
alone, humble, meek, quiet, and gentle, strive to be like him, 
imitate his practice of loving wisdom, pray to be near him 
in justice. For the words are, " Ask, and it shall be given 
you." For these things are really beautiful ; they bring salva- 


tion and they endure through the loving-kindness and provid- 
ence of Christ, to whom be glory and might for ever and ever." 

Equal in dignity to Chrysostom as bishop of the great 
city Milan, and one of the four Western doctors, as he was 
one of the four Eastern, St. Ambrose was in front of those 
who cherished the monastic institute at its first introduction 
into Italy. In his treatise on virginity, he records for us 
how he was wont to dwell with his sister Marcellina on the 
day of her profession. " It is time," he says, " sister, to 
consider those precepts of Liberius of blessed memory, often 
repeated by you to me ; for the holier the speaker, the 
dearer his words. For when on Christmas day, at the Apostle 
Peter's, you marked your profession of the virginal life by 
also changing your dress, in the presence of a large number 
of girls dedicated to God, who would be rivals to each other 
in your society, * My daughter,' he said, ' it is a happier 
marriage which you have desired. You see how many have 
assembled for the birthday of your Bridegroom,^ and no one 
goes away without his share of the feast. He it is who, 
when invited to the marriage feast, turned the water into 
wine. On you also He will confer the unblemished sacra- 
ment of virginity : on you, who before were exposed to the 
vile elements of material nature. He it is who fed four 
thousand people in the desert with five loaves and two 
fishes. More He could have fed had there been more pre- 
sent to feed. Moreover, He has invited many to your 
marriage ; but it is not now wheaten bread, but His Body 
from heaven which is dispensed. 

"*0n this day He was, according to human nature, a 
man born of a virgin, but begotten before all things of 
the Father. In His body He represented His mother ; in 
his power the Father. The only -begotten on earth, the 
only-begotten in heaven, God of God, and ofiTspring of the 
Virgin ; Justice from the leather. Power from the Powerful, 
Light of Light ; not unequal to the Begetter, not separate 
in power, not suflfering confusion by an extension or pro- 
duction of the Word, as if mixed up with the Father, but 
distinct from the Father by his generation. He, without 
whom neither things in heaven, nor in the seas, nor on 

^ Ambrosias de Yirginibus, lib. iii« c. i, torn. 11, p. 174. 


earth consist, is thine in brotherhood. Tiie good Word of 
the Father, " which was," he says, " in the beginning ; " here 
you have His eternity : and was, he says, " with the Father ;" 
here you have His power unsevered and inseparable from 
the Father : ** and the Word was God ; " here you have His 
unbegotten Godhead. Take this short summary of the faith. 

" ' This is He whom thou must love, my daughter, for He 
is good. "None is good but God alone" (Luke xviii. 19); 
for if there is no doubt that He is God the Son, and God 
is good, certainly there is no doubt that God is a good Son. 
Him, I say, do thou love. He it is whom the Father begot 
" before the daystar," as being eternal ; begot from his womb 
as the Son ; brought forth from his heart as the Word. It 
is He in whom the Father " is well pleased." He is the 
Father's arm, because He is the Creator of all things ; He 
is the Father's wsidom, because He proceeds from the 
mouth of God; He is the Father's power, because the 
fulness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily. Whom 
the Father so loves that He carries Him in His bosom, 
that He places Him at His right hand, in order that you 
may learn wisdom, may know power. 

** ' If, then, Christ be the power of God, is God ever 
without power ? Is the Father ever without the Son ? 
If certainly He is ever Father, certainly ever is the Son. 
Therefore He is perfect Son of perfect Father; for who- 
ever takes from His power takes from Him whose power 
He is. Perfect Godhead does not admit inequality, there- 
fore love thou Him whom the Father loves ; honour Him 
whom the Father honours, for "he who honoureth not the 
Son honoureth not the Father; and he who denieth the 
Son, neither hath the Father " (John v. 23).' " There follow 
abundant directions to Marcellina respecting her life as a 
nun ; to practise great moderation in food, taking wine only 
for the sake of her health ; to see very few persons ; to 
keep silence ; " for if women are commanded to be silent 
in the church even as to divine things, and to be informed 
by their husbands in the privacy of home, what caution do 
we think should be used in the case of virgins, in whom 
modesty is the ornament of their time of life, while silence 
is a safeguard of modesty." 


Then St. Ambrose, addressing his sister, says, "These 
words Liberius of holy memory used to you; in the case 
of others such words were not borne out by facts, but in 
you they were surpassed by them, for your virtue not only 
reached the utmost extent of discipline, but even surpassed 
it." His treatise bears the date of a.d. 377, and so he 
speaks of Pope Liberius eleven years after his death as a 
holy pontifif. In the same year his great colleague, St. 
Basil, in his 264th letter,^ speaks of the injunctions laid 
upon Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, " by the 
most blessed Bishop Liberius" (torn. ii. 406). St. Epiphanius 
speaks of him in the like terms, and Pope Siricius, his next 
successor after Pope Damasus, writing to a Spanish bishop, 
speaks of '* the general decrees sent to the provinces by 
Liberius, my predecessor of venerable memory, after annul- 
ling the Council of Eimini." It is a special providence of 
God to have preserved to us by St. Ambrose the words of a 
Pope solemnly receiving a nun's profession in St. Peter's 
about the year 362. They show that twenty years after 
the visit of St. Athanasius, a point of time at which the 
monastic life at Rome was yet a novelty, it had become an 
established institution, embraced by a daughter of one who 
had lately died pretorian prefect of the Gauls and Spain. 
At the time of her embracing it she had already many 
companions in it, while general rules concerning it were 
laid down by the Pope, and she as a nun recognised by 
him as the bride of Christ; to which we may add, that 
four bishops of the highest character for orthodoxy in the 
fourth century, all contemporaries and one a successor of 
Pope Liberius, attest after his death the unblemished 
character which he bore in the See of Eome, for what is 
attested by Basil, Ambrose, Epiphanius, and Siricius is 
surely an unimpeachable fact 

I would here add the testimony of one who, from the 
time of his death to the present day, has had a name of 
singular authority and attraction in the Gallic episcopate, 
St. Martin, Bishop of Tours.* The first monasteries founded 

^ St Bagil, Ep. 264 ; St Epiphanius, HcBresi., 25, c. 7 ; St Siricius, Ep. I 
ad Himerium: ''p4i8t cassatum Ariminense Concilium misRa ad provincias a 
venerandce memorise pnedecessore meo Liberio generalia decreta." 

' Translated from Mohler, Mdnehthum, pp. 191-192. 


upon strict rules, so far as history can show, are those set 
up by him at Ligug^, near Poitiers, and then near Tours, 
which became the famous house of Marmoutier. This he 
raised shortly after he came to the episcopal chair in Tours, 
A.D. 371-372. The history of St. Martin especially shows 
how strong the inclination to the monastic life burst out in 
all classes of society, even where no ^erm of it appeared 
to have been dropped beforehand. He was the son of a 
tribune in the imperial army, and, moreover, of a father 
devoted to the heathen gods, who died in their service, 
though the Christian faith had come near him in most 
attractive guise. Yet Martin, in spite of every hindrance, 
opened for himself a way to the lofty purpose which he 
had set before him. In his tenth year he withdrew from 
his father's house to offer himself to the priests as a 
Christian nursling. Life then, as is the case in all transi- 
tion times, was full of contradictions, which appeared in 
strongest form exactly where the bonds of nature touch 
most nearlv, and divine and human laws concur in main- 
taining the most perfect union. The first violent solution 
of a painful contradiction was quickly followed by another. 
An uncontrollable eagerness for the monastic, life awoke in 
him, while the laws compelled him, as the son of a veteran, 
to military service. The father's interest could easily have 
procured a remission of what the law required, but the 
father, who was unwilling to see his son a Christian, could 
much less endure to have a son who was a monk. So 
Martin found himself compelled in his fifteenth year to 
take service in the cavalry, and we see the most perfect 
opposition in one who is monk in heart and soldier in out- 
ward guise ; yet it was only the monk and the soldier who 
were in opposition, not the soldier and the Christian. The 
virtues of the Christian he exercised incomparably in the 
soldier, and far from becoming an object of derision among 
his comrades, he obtained the esteem and love of them all. 
Especially noted was his sympathy with suffering. He 
once in a great frost met a half-clothed man ; many that 
were well off passed him by unregarded. Martin's heart 
was touched at the sight of him, and as he could help him 
in no other way, he divided his cloak with him. 


In 356, when be obtained release from tbe army, be 
showed a most praiseworthy though a fruitless courage in 
the spiritual contest called forth by the Arian troubles. 
Then he withdrew into ascetic quiet at Milan. There also 
he was persecuted, and retired to the island of Capraria. 
Then he attached himself to St. Hilary of Poitiers, and 
with his help founded Liguge and then Marmoutier. He 
was, in truth, a man of mind, one of the most distinguished, 
the naost amiable, and powerful bishops whom Gaul has 
ever produced, equally honoured by the great and powerful 
of the land and by the people. If a. man so esteemed 
recommended the monastic life, it obtained an immovable 
basis, since no man doubted that he was a chosen instru- 
ment of the Lord. His funeral was celebrated by two 
thousand monks, though before him no monastery had been 
founded in Gaul. Sulpicius Severus was his devoted pupil, 
and described his ascetic life.^ In a few years this Life 
became known in every province of the Christian Church. 
Sulpicius completely shared the feelings of Martin as to 
the monastic life ; he developed them with great descrip- 
tive art and power of thought. So this Life contributed not 
less than its hero to its further advancement. 

At the time when the first General Council was sitting at 
Nicaea, the monk Pachomius was gathering together the first 
monastery at TabennaB, on the Nile, and placing the first 
convent of women under his sister. His own devoted life 
had kindled the like flame in that sister. She is said to 
have had four hundred virgins in her monastery. The sister 
also of St. Antony and the virgin wife of St. Ammon pre- 
sided over large numbers of the female sex, which showed 
equal ardour with the male in embracing this life. In the 
year 340 the patriarch Athanasius was driven by the schem- 
ing of Eusebian bishops at Antioch, supported by imperial 
power, to fly for protection to Pope Julius at Eome, and 
carried with him full knowledge of the life thus set up in 
the desert, together with the presence of two monks, who 
personally witnessed and had long practised it ; and these 
three introduced the knowledge and the esteem of this life 
at Eome. About twenty years later, probably in 362, the 

^ See this Life in Gallandi's CoUection, torn. viii. 


Pope who succeeded Julius was receiving the solemn pro- 
fession of a Boman lady of high rank in St Peter's, amid 
a great company of nuns, her friends and partners of her 
life. And in 377 her brother, then become Archbishop of 
Milan, records in his treatise on the virginal life the words 
which the Pope addressed to his sister as the bride of Christ. 
Ten years after this, in 387, St. Augustine, then a young 
convert, attests having seen monasteries of men and women 
at Itome and Milan ; and at the same time the noblest of 
Koman patricians, both men and women, were dedicating 
their lives to the monastic discipline, and their revenues to 
its promulgation. Of these we may mention by name 
Fabiola. In penance for having divorced a worthless hus- 
band, as the civil Eoman law enabled her to do, she, having 
learnt after her conversion that the law of Christ did not 
allow of such divorce, was lining the coasts of Italy with 
convents, for building which her great possessions supplied 
ample funds. St. Ambrose, speaking of the sea as a beauti- 
ful work of its Creator, alludes to this when he says, " Why 
should I enumerate the islands which the sea wears as a 
necklace ? Here they who fly from the snares of secular 
indulgence make their choice by a faithful purpose of con- 
tinence to lie hidden from the world. Thus the sea becomes 
a harbour of security, an incentive of devotion ; chanted 
psalms blend with the gentle murmur of waves, and the 
islands utter their voice of joy like a tranquil chorus to the 
hymns of saints." 

These various instances point out to us how the seventy 
years which followed the first monastery of Pachomius on 
the Nile found the monastic institute received throughout 
the provinces of the Church from Palestine to Gaul, and 
how the life of a monk who fled from sight into the deserts 
of Egypt had drawn after it a multitude of imitators in 
Egypt itself, while it had been proclaimed both to East and 
West by the great champion who had suffered five times 
banishment from his patriarchal See, and was maintaining, 
at the ri§k of his life, the Godhead of his Lord. St. Antony 
and St. Athanasius met and rebuked from the beginning the 
Arian insurrection against the Christian faith, and the 
monastic life which the one founded and the other pro- 


claimed showed throughout its whole course the steadfast- 
ness which they had shown at first. The emphatic assertion 
of Antony, that Arius was the forerunner of Antichrist, re- 
ceived in subsequent history a wonderful accomplishment, 
since the desertion of the true Christian faith by the Mono- 
physites of Egypt led them to help to the possession of Egypt 
the followers of one who put himself in the place of Christ ; 
and so Mohammed crowned the work of Arius, and the 
impostor found his chosen seat in the land where the heretic 
had sprung up. 

We have the most precise statements from St. Jerome, 
one of the chief propagators of this life, that it was a new 
thing — that is, new as to the public, avowed, and autho- 
rised living together of men and of women under monastic 
rule. There had been from the beginning, as a direct fol- 
lowing of the Apostles, and of the Apostolic Church at 
Jerusalem, those who pursued in their own persons many, 
at least, of the practices contained in the monastic discipline. 
St. Cyprian termed the virgins brides of Christ a hundred 
years before Pope Liberius in St. Peter's dwelt upon that 
dignity in the sister of St. Ambrose. But until the freedom 
of the Church, granted by Constantine, it was not feasible 
to have houses * openly acknowledged for their leading 
together " the common life." But it was precisely in this 
practice of "the common life" that the strength of the 
monastic institute consisted ; that one, who was termed a 
father, ruled with paternal authority a number of men, 
and in like manner an abbess, that is a mother, a number 
of women, who in their natural and civil condition were no 
ways related, and that the house so ruled constituted as 
distinct and stable a unity as the domestic home had done. 
This novelty added the two forces of obedience and the non- 
possession of private property to the unmarried condition, 
with which, previous to Constantine's enfranchisement, those 
stricter members of the Church had to content themselves ; 
and it is the junction of these three things which makes 
up " the common life." The construction of the rule, in 
accordance with which " the common life '* was to be carried 
out, formed the chief difficulty of establishing the institu- 
tion. Those who best succeeded in this drew the rule which 


they recommended to others from their own practice, as we 
see in St. Basil, St. Augustine, and afterwards St. Benedict. 
And they who have set up this rule, and, by its wisdom and 
tempered strength, caused it to be accepted by generations 
who succeeded them, have been the greatest legislators of 
the human race and its greatest benefactors. 

The time when this new force was developed out of the 
Church's bosom was a most critical time. Constantine's act 
in setting the Church free from censure of the law had made 
it possible, and at the same time had rendered it necessary. 
The very act which we so praised had exposed the Church 
to a host of fresh difficulties. Freedom from persecution 
had developed her worst enemies, for Diocletian's tortures 
were not so dangerous as the contagion of a bishop who 
migrated first from the small See of Berytus, in Palestine, 
to Nicomedia, when the court of Constantine was there, and 
then from Nicomedia to Constantinople, when the first 
Christian emperor had made it New Rome. For the first 
time in Christian history it might be profitable to temporal 
interests to become a Christian. The whole Christian people 
was visibly aflected by this possibility. The calamities which 
Basil had traced^ with the hand of a master and the com- 
punction of a saint sprang up in this way among the Eastern 
episcopate. Bishops had temporal greatness thrust upon 
them, and many lost therein episcopal independence. Not 
all of them, like Basil himself, laughed to scorn the threats 
of an imperial satrap and prime minister. Julian was 
tempted to apostasy by the corruption of the time-serving 
Christians whom he saw around him. It is said positively 
that he thought the most effective way to divide the Church 
which he hated was by suffering bishops who had been 
deposed under Constantius to return to their Sees. In that 
fourth century civil society in the unconverted heathen popu- 
lation of the Roman empire was in a state of the utmost 
corruption. From the deserts of Egypt was brought the 
power to wage conflict with it. The life which Antony, and 
Pachomius, and Animon, with a host of disciples, both male 
and female, there nurtured in solitude and privation was the 
most absolute contradiction of the criminal luxury to be found 

^ See his ninety-second letter, quoted vol. v. p. 231. 


at Rome, at Carthage, at Antioch/ at Alexandria, at Con- 
stantinople. And so contemporaneous with the action of the 
first Christian Council, the assembling of which was Con- 
stantine's gift to the Church, came the introduction of a new 
force into the Church's life, which was to show itself at the 
moment the last surviving son of Constantine had sent a Pope 
into exile, and all but substituted the deadly error which his 
father proscribed for the Church's faith. And it is to be 
noted here again that the monastic discipline which brought 
with it " the common life " was from the beginning, and has 
been throughout its course, the most strenuous defender of 
the Christian faith. Through age after age it has saved the 
faith from overthrow, has beaten back the conquering power 
of the unchristian life, and shown that those who surrender 
their will as one of the three sacrifices carry the faith in 
their hearts, and proclaim it by doing and by suffering with 
imperturbable constancy. The few instances which I have 
given above, and which might be multiplied to any extent, 
show that the greatest men in the Christian hierarchy and 
literature embraced this ofispring of the desert Fathers with 
unanimous assent, with even the cordial homage of their 
example. As not a saint in the calendar can be found who 
does not, like St. Elizabeth, when filled with the Holy Ghost, 
cry out to our Blessed Lady with heart and voice, " Blessed 
art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 
And whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should 
come to me ? " so not one is to be found who does not accept 
the heroic Christian institute as the flower of Christian life, 
as the most perfect following of the crucified Lord. 

We shall not, therefore, be wrong in considering that in 
the history of the Church the necessitated counterpart to her 
delivery from the violence of heathen persecution is the liberty 
for her children to profess together and maintain "the 
common life." In it is preserved a faithful seed which will 
sustain for ever the purity of conduct with the strength of 
belief, and is free to devote the energy which springs from 
this double force to meet the various needs which attend 
upon civilisation in its perpetual development. 

1 For what it was at Antiocb, see the testimony of an eye-witness, its great 
preacher, St. Chrysostom, vol. i. p. 88. 



Having heard what the chief fathers of the fourth century 
said in their own words of the monastic life upon its public 
introduction among them, we can turn to consider in its 
general bearings the result of that fact upon the whole 
Christian society. Why was it sent, and why especially at 
such a time, the time, namely, when Constantine's decree of 
toleration had opened a new epoch to the Church ? Fifteen 
centuries have gone by, and many things lie open now to 
us which were hidden from the actors in the hundred years 
following on that decree of toleration. We see, for instance, 
that the century opened what was to be the final trial of 
the great Eoman empire. When St. Antony had finished 
his fifty years' noviciate, and came forth from his life in 
solitude to be the guide and director of other men like 
himself, about A.D. 305, a great heathen persecution was 
waging against the Church ; the empire was standing under 
four emperors ; the barbarians were on the other side the 
Danube, heaving their tumultuous billows against the great 
Eoman wall which kept the frontier of civilisation from the 
Euxine to the Northern Sea. For a hundred and fifty 
years from Decius onwards, a succession of emperors, some 
of them at least military commanders of great eminence, 
were to hold the Teuton and the Scythian at bay. Con- 
stautine, the greatest of them all, was just coming to the 
birth of his power, and would use the choicest and the 
bravest of the Northern invaders to replenish and to 
strengthen his newly arranged legions. The glory of old 
Eome was still dazzling the eyes of men. No one foresaw 
that before the first century of the Church's freedom was 
fully worn out, a Gothic chief who had faithfully served a 

Eoman emperor and helped him to save that empire, would 



have claimed from his sofi the supreme command of his 
armies, and beiug refused, would take the imperial city her- 
self, and close the predestined years of her dominion. Just 
at the time Constantine arose, Egypt, in the remotest corner 
of Eome's empire, and there, not in the magnificent city 
which bore the name and exhibited the conquests of the 
great Alexander, but in her deserts, gave birth to a new 
race of men, who turned their backs upon cities, and the 
life generated in them, on all the luxury and the vices 
which defiled them, who treated their bodies with bread 
and water, and supported their souls upon God alone. All 
the tissue of their lives was an uttei-ance of that one word 
which the Spanish saint has consecrated. Solo Dios basta. 

This race appeared in the deserts of Egypt, but it was 
from its chief city that the most renowned champion of 
the Christian faith, driven by a religious persecution, took 
refuge with the Pope in Eome ; and in doing so proclaimed 
to the West the mode of life pursued by the Fathers of 
the Desert, and by Antony himself, their leader, then 
ninety years old, and destined still to lead them for another 
fifteen years. The most dangerous of heresies had emerged 
simultaneously with the Church's civil freedom. For fifty 
years that heresy, sheltered and fostered under the wing of 
despotic emperors, one of them the son and sole successor 
of Constantine, disturbed, and in the eastern part of the 
empire dislocated, her episcopate, and especially ravaged the 
city which Constantine had crowned for the Christian capital 
of his chosen dominion. Nova Roma housed Arianism, and 
her bishop, Eudoxius, perverted the Emperor Valens, and 
through him infected the chiefest Gothic tribe with the 
same perversion. Old Kome under Julius, Liberius, and 
Damasus, preserved the faith. The evil which Constantius 
and Valens laboured to effect, a Spanish emperor, Theodosius, 
strove to undo. In the meantime the saints whom we have 
recorded from Athanasius to Chrysostom hailed the life 
which the Fathers of the Desert had introduced. All the 
provinces of the east rapidly received monasteries and con- 
vents founded after their example. 

The greatest and strongest men in the Church, from 
Athanasius forward, took an active part in the ordered 


establishment of the coenobitic life.^ In the quotations 
which I have made from them we see a diflFerence of touch, 
betokening the individual character in each, but they are all 
agreed as to one point. They term the life itself " a living 
with God," or, '* a running to meet the life which bears the 
cross," a "living together with the adoration of God," a 
" dwelling in solitude with Christ," as many hundred years 
later, St. Bernard said, " Living in a cell is living in heaven. 

What means this ? It means to give your thoughts to 
God is to enjoy God." One who had seen apostles perhaps 
gathered up all these words in his own, " My love is cruci- 
fied," showing thereby that the life thus introduced was 
indeed a renewal of that earliest Christian life. One and 
all looked upon this life as supernatural In it they place 
the contrast between the mundane and the religious life. 
All around them the Greek and the Koman heathenism was 
breaking up from intrinsic corruption. Herein they found 
something which defied that corruption. 

But contemplate somewhat nearer the coming of such a 
force to the Church at such a time out of such a country as 

The conduct of St. Antony through that long noviciate of 
self-imposed and internal discipline, which Athanasius has 
described, is ruled entirely by one desire, to follow his 
Lord, to be like Him, to enjoy communion with Him. All 
thought of the world is absent from his mind. When his 
course was far advanced, and he had gone to Alexandria at 
the bidding of the authority which he revered, he laid it 
down as a maxim that monks must live in the mountains 
as fish live in the sea. The watchword of the Desert 
Fathers was piety towards Christ.^ 

All the facts which we know concerning Antony, Pacho- 
mius. Amnion, and the multitude of disciples which fol- 
lowed them, point to one conclusion as to their utter 
unconsciousness that they were doing anything except 

^ cv^rjv T(fi 6e(fi — Athanasius. TpocSpa/xiiv ry ffravpaphpi^ /3/y — Basil, rj roC 
Oeov Xarpclg. <ru^rjv — Chrysostoin. el 5c xal oloi vatrdciv iOiXois ypurri} ^woO- 
/X6V0S ofw — Gregory Naz. Quod geritur in cellis, hoc est in coelis, quidnam 
est hoc ? Yacare Deo, frui Deo ~ Bernard. 6 iiios (pwi ioravpurrcu — Ignatius 
of Antioch. 

* €^<r€p€la iit XptaT6y, 


pursuing the cultivation of the inner life ; and that is the 
fact concerning them recognised by the Fathers who exa- 
mined and approved their work.^ 

As an instance of the power with which the character 
and example of Antony laid hold of others, we may take 
Hilarion. He was born in Gaza, and was sent in earliest / 
youth by his parents, who were idolaters, to Alexandria to 
learn the liberal arts in the far-famed schools of the Egyp- 
tian capital As he joined innocence and purity of life with 
great diligence, he pleased his teachers and made consider- 
able progress in learning. Thus he appeared a fit subject 
for the Christian religion into which he entered. The fame 
of St. Antony reached also to him : a journey to visit the 
much-talked of hermit took place. This decided the course 
of his life. For the youth felt himself so impressed with 
the wisdom and virtues of Antony, that after a few months 
he left him with the resolution to live in his own country 
after Antony's pattern. This resolution was not the result 
of a passing enthusiasm, but followed upon the deepest 
spiritual aflBnity. When he looked on Antony he saw in 
him his own idea. And so he became the image of Antony, 
not merely in external ascetic appearance, but in his inmost 
being, as well as in the blessed influence which he exercised 
upon the world around him. No one doubted that Hilarion 
was a friend of God, and therefore that through him a 
check to every oppression might be found. His great art 
consisted in drawing to himself men of all classes from the 
remotest distance, in winning hearts, in changing even 
masses of heathen into Christians. Thus a Teuton, in the 
person of a noble Frank who served at Constantine's court 
in the guard among those called candidates, came to him 
to gain help. Julian the Apostate issued special orders to 
persecute him, which he escaped by flight. After many 
wanderings he died in the island of Cyprus, more than 
eighty years old, about 370, after having founded many 
monasteries in Palestine. 

From Palestine the monastic institution went farther 
east, and so quickly that St Basil in 357, only a year 
after the death of its patriarch, Antony, found well- arranged 

^ Monchthum, p. 148, trans. 


and flourishing monasteries already from thirty to forty years 
old in Coele-Syria and Mesopotamia. Basil delighted him- 
self to find in the Syrian and Egyptian monks a life devoted 
both to labour and to piety. In his own practice of it he 
joined to these qualities great learning. When Archbishop 
of Caesarea he counted his monks the fairest portion of his 
diocese.^ He composed for them his longer and his shorter 
Eule, works which show the greatness of his mind no less 
than his dogmatic writings and his letters, while they have 
had a great effect both in East and West on the formation 
of the higher mind. From St. Basil's death in 379 no pro- 
vince of the Eastern Church was deprived of the possession 
of living monks in its borders. From these issued a con- 
tinually new progeny.* 

The great character of Basil in union with his high rank 
in the hierarchy was of much advantage to the spread of 
the monastic institution. He was largely occupied in form- 
ing a rule for it. This touches upon the first diflSculty 
which arises in that state. Of the monks in general it is 
said that they carried on that form of apostolic conduct 
which had first been shown in the infant Church at Jeru- 
salem ; and that in a not untrue sense it mny be said that 
the disciples of the Lord in the first three hundred yeara 
were all of them monks. Cast out of the world, the Chris- 
tian lived in it like a pilgrim, as much severed from it by 
his manners as by his belief; for his manners were the 
image of his belief. The fact that the Son of God had 
become man for the salvation of men, and died upon the 
Cross, laid hold of the heart in all its force, and the word 
of the Apostle that baptism into Christ was baptism into 
His death, had its full meaning for every believer. Such 
a conviction might of itself draw a young and fervent 
spirit, such as that of Antony, into the desert ; but there is 
a great step between an individual mind actuated with such 
feelings, and a community living a joint life together in the 
exercise of them. While Antony was thought to be the 
most perfect example of the ascetic life in itself, Pachomius 
rather bore the title of its legislator. The first community- 
life at Tabenna was formed by him. The power by which 

* Mimchthum, pp. 187, 188. '-^ Ilnd.^ p. 166. 



such a community became a house, having its own corporate 
life; a father, w j was the mainspring of its action; 
members, whose office was as distinct as the office of the 
eye, the hand, and the foot of the human body, yet who 
grew together from day to day, from month to month, from 
year to year, this power added to the individual ascetic an 
impact of numbers which betokened another creation. 
Herein lay the vast importance of the new life which 
sprung from the action of the Fathers of the Desert. 

Basil entered very much into this new life. He had 
seen it in his visits to Egypt, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. 
He carried it out personally in his own life with St. Gregory 
on the banks of the Iris in Pontus. He furthered its 
attainment in his capital city, Ciesarea. The formation, 
growth, and consolidation of the monastic family is the 
crown of the ascetic life ; the persistence of such a family 
to endure not merely for single lives but for generations, 
preserving one spirit, is the crown of perfect success — a 
success incomparably more difficult than an individual life, 
however high its purpose and perfect its accomplishment 
Since the Church herself in all her grandeur, as in all her 
tenderness, is one family of Christ, it may well be that a 
monastic family, as a crystal of like quality, however small, 
may be the most perfect specimen of the one Church. 

History shows that the attainment of a rule was the 
greatest difficulty which the monastic life encouutered. 

As Antony, the patriarch of monks, had been preceded 
by Paul the first hermit, so the long noviciate of fifty years 
passed by Antony as a hermit was matured at length by 
his example, forming as it were the kernel of many monasi- 
teries. The greater severity of penance, which seemed to 
mark the hermit's loneliness, was balanced by the greater 
opportunity of exercising charity which would be required 
to maintain a household, by virtue of that supernatural 
power of the living together under rule. In all ages of the 
Church there have been solitaries whose lives showed every 
degree of self-denial, and all practice of the presence of 
(fod, and all exercise of the power of prayer. Nevertheless 
those who had fled to solitude from persecution, or through 
disgust at the luxury. which prevailed, around them, would 



become aware by personal experience of many defects in 
their own character which the living under in the society 
of others would help them to amend. And this was a 
powerful cause for the prevailing of the coBnobitic over the 
solitary life, which was the result before long among those 
who inhabited the desert, and in those who through the 
East propagated their institution.^ And so the great effect 
of the monastic life in building up the fabric of the Church, 
in maintaining the one faith, by learning, by acting, by 
suffering, is seen in the creation of " the common life " from 
its first manifestation in the deserts of Egypt. Upon this 
Basil spent much time and thought,^ and the monks of the 
Eastern Church have largely lived upon his rule. But it 
would seem that the reception of the same rule by different 
religious houses, who were at a distance from each other, 
and whose government was independent, being complete in 
the house itself, was a matter of long time and no little 

Thus at the end of the fourth century we find in the 
East St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory 
Nazianzen, and St. Gregory of Nyssa have done their 
utmost to encourage, promote, and extol the monastic life. 
No less in the West St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, and St. 
Augustine, of whom the first praised it in the example of 
his sister, and by the solemn approval of the Pope ; the 
second exulted in its reception by the noblest Roman 
families in both sexes, spending the last part of his life 
in the constniction and government of religious houses at 
Bethlehem ; while the third not only made it the first 
thought of his life as a convert, but attached it to the 
hierarchy of the Church by making his episcopal house 
a monastery. And it must be noted that when he did 
this, not only was the life itself, as to its second condi- 
tion of obedience, and its third condition of poverty, new 
in the Church, but that religious were in their first state 
of the laity, and not reckoned among the clergy. So that 
if the doctrine of St. Augustine told most powerfully on 

^ yfoncfithum^ p. 176. 

- S. Greg. Xanz. : fii<niw rtM^ i^X^or i.lS'y^^ **<** tuydifav rwr fikv rh cvwwovw 
Ttar Si t6 xPW^ ^ipwv.^L^t 0/ Basil , p. xlviii 


the growth of theology in the after centuries of the Church 
over wide regions, no less did his example bear fruit in 
her practice. 

In the same year, 410, in which Eome was taken by 
Alaric, a monastery arose upon an island at the southern 
extremity of France, which was to be a home of learning 
and piety and zeal in that terrible fifth century when the 
whole land of France became the prey of the Northern 
invaders. Honoratus, a man of Gallic blood and consular 
race, highly educated by his father, wished to embrace the 
religious life. His father opposed this wish, and tried to 
turn him from it by the society of his elder brother ; but, 
on the contrary, Honoratus was able to gain over his 
brother. After many wanderings, he landed on the desert 
isle of Lerin^ where once had been a city, long destroyed, 
but which was then only known for the multitude of its 
snakes. He was accompanied by many friends, who soon 
formed a community of austere monks and most laborious 
workers. The snakes retired, and that pionastic house arose 
in a country plentifully watered, well shaded with lofty 
trees, rich in verdure, enamelled with flowers. Honoratus, 
whose paternal love invited all who loved Christ to share 
his new home, found disciples arrive from every region. 
He was speedily enabled to renew on the coast of Provence 
the wonders of the Thebaide. That monaaterv- became a 
school of theology and Christian philosophy. Its insular 
position placed it beyond the reach of barbarian invasion. 
It continued to be an asylum for literakure and knowledge, 
a nursery also of bishops and saints when the mainland 
of Italy and Gaul was suflering the horrors of a conquest 
unequalled for its cruelty and the desolation inflicted.^ 

The churches of Aries, Avignon, Urons, Troyes, Frejus, 
Valence, Nice, Venn, Apt, Venasque, Antibes, Saintes, 
received from what was called "the/ blessed island" their 
most illustrious bishops. Honoratus was takeii from the 
monastery he had founded to occupy the primatial see of 
Aries, but at least once a year he came to visit the com- 
munity which he had built up with all a father's affection. 
One of his disciples has left us his last words to those 

~ 1 Montalombert on 'LeriD, i* 232* 


who surrounded his bed : " Live, my children, in such sort 
that you may not fear your last hour. This is the in- 
heritance your father leaves you with his last breath, an 
invitation to the heavenly kingdom." He was succeeded 
at Aries by a disciple of Lerin, the well-knojwrlSt. liila?y^- 
of Aries, who continued during his episcof^te-tha-penitefit 
and laborious life of the cloister. He traversed his diocese 
on foot and with naked feet, even in the snow. To help 
the poor he sold his sacred vessels, and used paten and 
chalice of glass. He worked with his own hands to 
cultivate the fields of his church, or to make nets to help 
his ruined people and redeem captives dragged into slavery 
during the wars between the Komans and the Goths and 
Burgundians, who ravaged Southern GauL He had the 
misfortune to fall under the censure of the great St. Leo, 
who deprived him of his rank of metropolitan, but after 
his death entitled him, " Hilary of holy memory." 

A monk of this monastery also was that St. Vincent who 
has left but one short writing, written in 434, three years 
after the Council of Ephesus, and containing the most pre- 
cise and detailed statement as to the doctrine of develop- 
ment which is to be found in patristic writing, and which 
has been quoted with approbation by the last Ecumenical 
Council at the Vatican. 

Salvian also, who wrote upon the corruption which drew 
down that terrible chastisement on the Eoman world, passed 
five years in the place and solitude of Lerin. 

St. Eucher was a monk of Lerin when two deputies of 
the Church of Lyons went to invite him to be their bishop. 

They could not prevail on him to leave his solitude, upon 
which they broke down the stones which closed his cavern, 
and carried him ofiE by force to the metropolitan See, which 
received him with acclamations, and where he sat nearly 
twenty years. It is an instance among many of the eager* 
ness with which bishops were sought from the monastic life. 

Another disciple of Lerin, St. Loup, was Bishop of Troyes, 
where he encountered Attila, and ventured to ask the kinu 
of the Huns, " Who art thou ? " receiving the reply, *' I am 
Attila, the scourge of God." But Attila did St. Loup and 
his city no harm. He was also joined with St. Germain 


of Auxerre in a journey to England to combat the Pelagian 
heresy. During fifty-two years of pontificate, he faithfully 
practised the observances of the monastic life learnt at 
Lerin, as well as a great study of learning. 

Another of the most famous bishops of Gaul spent his youth 
at Lerin. Caesarius was the third Archbishop of Aries taken 
from that house. He was bishop more than forty years, 
from SOI to. 542, presiding over four Councils, and direct- 
ing the chief controversies of his age. He nobly maintained 
the episcopal independence in the face of the barbarous 
sovereigns who one after the other occupied Provence. He 
was exiled by Alaric, king of the Visigoths, and imprisoned 
by Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, but they afterwards 
did him justice. Passionately loved by his own flock, he 
left a hundred and thirty sermons, which bear the stamp of 
his charity, and long formed the basis of instruction in the 
Gallic Church.^ He was also devoted throughout to the 
monastic life, and drew up for different communities of men 
a sort of rule in twenty-six articles. But still more known 
was that which he gave to the great monastery of women in 
his metropolitan city. The Franks and Burgundians, in 
their siege of Aries in 508, ruined this building. When 
they were gone, Csesarius resumed his work and rebuilt it; 
and to protect this refuge against the flood of invasion, he 
had its foundation confirmed by Pope Hormisdas. The 
Pope also, at his express request, exempted it from episcopal 
jurisdiction. The bishop's sister, Ca&saria, was for thirty 
years abbess, and had two hundred religious. When Caesa- 
rius was dying he addressed the nuns, speaking of " the 
blessed and happy isle of Lerin ; those whom she receives 
as children she makes fathers ; she takes them as recruits, 
she gives them up as kings." ^ 

The Abbey of St. Victor at Marseilles was another mona- 
stic metropolis of Southern Gaul. It was founded by John 
Cassian, by some said to have been a Scythian, by others an 
Athenian or G^ul. He was at first a monk at Bethlehem, 
then in Egypt, where he lived seven years among the soli- 
taries of Kitria and the Thebaide. He has left us an exact 
and touching picture of their life. Afterwards he went to 

^ Ozanam, Etud, Oer,f ii. p. 87. ' MonUlembert, I 242. 


Constantinople to find St. John Chrysostom, who ordained 
him deacon, and sent him to Kome to set forth his cause to 
Pope Innocent I. At Eome he became the friend of St. Leo 
the Great, before his elevation to the papacy, and wrote at 
his request a refutation of the Nestorian heresy.^ 

Thus Cassian had studied the monastic life in many 
places before he came to rest at Lerin. Thence he went 
to Marseilles to found that great monastery of SL Victor. 
Before long it counted five thousand monks, including not 
only those which it contained itself, but those who dwelt in 
houses created by its influence. Cassian wrote the four 
books of his Institutions and his four and twenty confe- 
rences, works which have taken a place among the codes of 
monastic life. He records in them the manner of life, the 
prayer and mortification which he had witnessed in the 
Thobaide and in Palestine, their interior life, their spirit, 
and their supernatural wisdom. 

Most of the great chiefs of the coenobitic institute had, 
since St. Pachomius, drawn up instructions or constitutions 
for the use of their own disciples, which they termed a rule, 
but none of these had been permanently and generally 
accepted. The rule of St Basil had been largely used in 
the East, yet Cassian, when he visited Egypt, Palestine, 
and ]\lesopotamia, found almost as many rules as there were 

Cassian did not desire that his monastery should become 
what lA^riu was, a sort of seminary of bishops and priests 
around it. He had himself been ordained deacon bv St. 
Ohr}*sostom, and priest by Pope Innocent I. Yet he would 
have liked to maintain the old barrier which separated the 
monks from the clemv. But the feelings of the times broke 
down this kirrier. The populations sought eagerly for 
bishops and pritsts formed in the monastic sanctuaries. 
Lorin and Sl Victor gave bishops and priests to the Churches 
of Oaul in the fifth eenturv who had both theological know- 
lodge and moral stamiing, which often failed in prelates 

^ MonUlembert, I 245- 

* Mont^IembcTt, L 2^, who q=c«« the vc^rxis of Cass' An : "Tx prxv* 
m.^um tvix^jt AC iv^^.AS uscrpAtAs TidizcuK quo: xnoiiAsl^riA cellAiqoe 
s{^ximiu..*'~Iiuut.» lib. ii. c 2. 


taken from the Gallo-Roman aristocracy who had not passed 
through the religious life. 

The East and the West had embraced the monastic life 
with wonderful rapidity. Not that it did not meet with 
great opposition. Of these, the heathen opponents would 
regard the doctrine of the crucified Son of God, of the 
necessity to die to tliemselves and to the world, as utter 
antagonism to the Hellenic view of life. So Libanius, 
defending the heathen temples, mocked the monks as men 
who considered it virtue to pass their lives in mourning. 
The title of " the men clothed in black " embraces every- 
thing which the heathen Greek would feel against them. 
The Arians also pursued them with the keenest dislike, for 
which their own worldliness was a quite suflScient reason. 
The still and quiet life, given up to prayer and contempla- 
tion, with hard manual labour, would meet indeed with 
acknowledgment as to its visible fruits, but as to the invi- 
sible communion with God would only be treated by the 
worldly as idleness and uselessness.^ 

It is here, however, that we have to place one of the 
greatest benefits conferred by the monks on the whole 
Christian society. . Antony could pass a whole night in 
prayer to God, and complain when the rays of the rising 
sun came to intervene with his contemplation, " sun, 
why comest thou to draw me away from the royal sight 
of the true light ? " This fixing of the soul on God gave 
the monk an insight into the mind and heart not before 
reached. Thus he came to have the tenderest sympathy 
with the brethren around him. As a matter of fact, the 
service which the monks rendered to the advance of science 
in the Church was very great ^ From the first formation 
of the monastic life, we find very few important ecclesi- 
astical writers in proportion who had not been either ascetics 
or monks, or at least had spent a long time among them 
and gained in their circle the theological culture which they 
reached. Athanasius, Basil, Gregory the theologian, Chry- 
sostom, Theodoret, Maximus, among the Greeks; Jerome, 
Rufinus, Augustine, Sulpicius Severus, Cassian, Salvian, 

^ Montalembert, i. 247-248. 
^ MOnehthum, p. 211, trans. 



Gregory the Great, Fulgentius, Vincent of Lerin, Csesarins 
of Aries, among the Latins, are sufficient witness of this. 
Ancient literature has no greater names to show. Tlie 
most important periods in the development of dogma and 
the scientific perception of the faith are attached to those 
named. To the present day their writings are storehouses 
of theology. Nor is such a result casual. The thorough 
solution of every difficult problem in any department of 
science requires withdrawal of the mind from dissipation 
and irregular emotions. How much more does the science 
of what is holy and divine require this ? But especially 
the science of a faith given by God has something peculiar 
to itself. That which we call philosophy first inquires 
whether there is anything holy and divine, and presents 
itself to the inquiry without much reverence and humility. 
But the Christian theologian possesses these qualities before- 
hand, and knows that he cannot set himself to any inquiry 
without a strict moral purification, without persistent prayer, 
and without the guiding help of the Holy Spirit. But con- 
tact with the spirit of the world, and contamination through 
the spirit of the world, which prevents the soaring above 
by prayer and the reception of the higher light, are nearly 
the same thing. And so it comes that the ascetic cell of 
the monks is pointed out by a divine disposition as the 
fittest place for meditation to the Christian theologian. Nor 
is this open to the historical objection that many of the 
above-named Fathers of the Church issued their most 
important and influential writings when they were already 
such fathers ; for when they had once received the con- 
secration of the monastic life they maintained its habits 
during the remainder of their course.^ 

This brings us to a merit of the monastic life at this 
time which cannot be too highly prized, that of having 
educated and given to the Church her worthiest bishops. 
It must be remembered that at this time no special places 
lor the formation of the clergy had been provided. During 
the persecutions, when the opposition between the world's 
domain and the kingdom of God was openly manifested, 
when Cliristians and heathen were sharply severed, and the 

^ MoAckthumf p. 212, translated. 


first dwelt in a great separation by themselves ; the future 
priest did not require a special education. All social inter- 
course presented liim with new elements of spiritual life. 
But now the world had forcibly pressed itself into the 
limits of the Church, and the results soon showed them- 
selves in the moral relation of the higher and the lower 
clergy. The priest would have to come out of the com- 
munity. So the need became urgent to hold apart from 
the community the head who was forming for it, to obtain 
for him a separate education, which might detach him from 
the all -prevailing corruption, keep before him as high a 
standard as possible, and lend him the strength to raise up 
again members who in so many things had sunk below the 
level. It was a manifest leading of the Divine Providence 
that, at the very time when these circumstances began to 
be developed, and this double need came forth, the ascetics 
went into the deserts, and there formed their own com- 
munities, well protected against the spirit of the world. 
The life which ruled among them of itself invited not a 
few to devote themselves to those studies which were in- 
dispensable to a spiritual pastor. From these, therefore, 
many priests and bishops were chosen; and, by Augustine 
making his episcopal house a monastery, they became them- 
selves patterns of the places which bishops devoted to the 
education of the clergy. As little, and never exclusively, 
was the fourth century in the possession of schools intended 
to communicate theoretical instruction for the increase of 
the priesthood. The public addresses of the bishop or of 
his representatives sufficed for all without distinction ; who- 
ever was conspicuous for spotless virtue, unswerving faith, 
prudence and thoughtfulness, a higher mind, natural or 
acquired eloquence, might be chosen for a priest by the 
bishop's confidence. Observation of the manner in which 
every one discharged his office took the place of trial, and 
the bishop conferred a higher function or a larger trust 
as he saw how lower services had been performed. The 
whole special formation of the priest was gained merely 
.by practice. But the position of the Church changed also 
as to this. The old*'simplicity required to be given up. It 
conveyed (jUdly less assurance against attacks of heretics^ 


pointed with great skill and knowledge, the refutation of 
which required, nay, absolutely demanded, special pre- 

In the time of the patriarch Tiinotheus of Alexandria, 
A.D. 381—385,^ the people of a suflfering city besought him 
to give them Abbot Ammon for bishop. He assented, 
only adding that they should bring the abbot to him. But 
as soon as the abbot heard of their desire he took to flight 
When caught, he told them he would not leave his cell. 
As they continued to press him, he cut off his right ear, 
crying out that he could not now be consecrated a bishop. 
The patriarch was told the incident, and replied, " It is 
true that in the Old Testament such a loss would in-> 
capacitate for the priesthood, but in the New Testament 
it was the Spirit which decided." Still Ammon did not 
yield. A few examples from the Latin Church may instruct 
us as to the benefits which the monasteries brought to the 
Church. Sulpicius Severus, after describing the extreme 
difficulty with which Martin was induced to accept the 
bishopric of Tours, goes on to say^ "that he continued 
the monastic life there as before. He showed the same 
humility, the same poverty in his dress, and exerted the 
episcopal dignity without surrendering the purpose of the 
monk. At first he lived in a cell close to the church, but 
found himself incommoded by the number of visitors ; so 
he constructed a monastery in a very retired spot about 
two miles from the city. It was as lonely as the desert, 
having on one side the precipitous rock of a lofty mountain, 
on the other the river Loire, and approached only by one 
very narrow road. He himself occupied a wooden cell, as 
did many of his companions, while the rest hollowed out 
their cells in the rock. Here he had eighty disciples, who 
were formed after the model of their master. None had 
any private property; they might not buy or sell; they 
followed no art except writing, which was kept for the 
more youthful, while the elder were devoted to prayer. 
The cell was seldom left, except when they met in com- 
mon prayer. All took their food together after fast-time : 

^ Monehthvmf p. 214. 

^ Vita Beati Martini, sec. 10, freely translated. 


they had no wine, except in case of illness. Most of them 
were dressed in camel's hair. A softer vestment was looked 
upon as criminal, a thing the more remarkable because 
many of them were noble, and, having been brought up 
in a very different life, had compelled themselves to this 
humility and patience. Very many of them we afterwards 
saw as bishops, for what city or church was there which 
did not seek to have its prelate from Martin's monastery ?" ^ 
Such was the beginning of Marmoutier, and of the fourteen 
liundred years during which it glorified the name and kept 
alive the spirit of St. Martin. 

At the other side of France, a certain Eomanus, brought 
up at the monastery of Ainay near Lyons, set out at the age 
of thirty-five, with the *' Life of the Fathers in the Desert," 
a few herbs, and some tools, plunged into the lofty moun- 
tains and uninhabited forests which crowned his native land, 
and at last found a spot shut in between three steep hills 
at the junction of two streams. There he began, under the 
name of Condat, a monastery which was to become one of the 
most celebrated in the West, There he found his first 
shelter under a great pine, planted his pulse, and felt secure 
from interruption by the difficulty of access. In due time 
he was joined by his brother Lupicinus^nd then by others 

in such numbers that they had tolorm new settlements in 
the neighbourhood. The two brothers governed in common 
these monasteries ; and the women were not behind them, 
for on a neighbouring rock, perched like a nest on a preci- 
pice, the sister of the two abbots governed 105 nuns, so 
severely cloistered that after they had once entered no one 
could see them till their bodies passed from the sickbed to 
the cemetery. 

The monks had each a separate cell and a refectory in 
common ; in summer they took their siesta under the great 
pines, which in winter protected their dwelling from the 
snow and cutting wind. They sought to imitate the Eastern 
anchorites, whose various rules they studied, tempering their 
severity with such relaxations as the climate, daily labour, 
and the Gallic constitution required. They wore wooden 
shoes and the skins of beasts rudely stitched together. So 

^ Mihiehthum, p. 215. 


fruitful were they in colonies, which swarmed from their 
hive and filled the neighbouring provinces, that of them the 
word was first used, " They made of this Burgundian coun- 
try, on which the Jura and the Alps look down, a new 
Thebaide." The monastery of Condat, founded in 425, lived 
through long ages of barbarism. It long bore the name of 
its fourth abbot, Eugende, becoming one of. the most cele- 
brated schools in GauL In the end it took the name of 
Saint Claude, and was the seat of a bishop, and only ended 
its thirteen hundred years of life at the great Revolution. 

Thus, from the middle of thp fifth century, the ccenobitic 
institute coming out of the Tliebaide occupied one after 
another all the provinces of the Eoman empire. We find it 
encamped on every frontier, waiting for the coming of the 
barbarians, and prepared to convert them.^ Those who lived 
such a life, followed with the utmost freedom of choice, 
pondered unceasingly on the divine Word and imbibed its 
spirit. Who was fitter than they to give expression to its 
force, to diflfuse its consoling and vivifying power among 
others? They did not think that it lessened the episcopal 
dignity to live so still and noiseless, so self-denying a life 
as they had been accustomed to lead when monks. Hence 
it was that as bishops they did not squander Church property, 
and could found such stately works as Constantinople, 
Caisarea, and many other cities received from the hands of 
their great bishops, Chrysostom and Basil. Rufinus says of 
the Nitiian monks, " Never have we seen charity so flourish, 
never the work of mercy and the study of hospitality so 
fulfilled, never such proficiency in the study of the Holy 
Scriptures, in the understanding of them, and in sacred 
knowledge, so that you might take almost every one as an 
eloquent theologian." No doubt at times a bishop chosen 
from the monks would show a certain inaptitude to deal with 
difiicult circumstances, but, as a general rule, they showed 
that they possessed a far greater knowledge of the world, as 
needed by a bishop, than those who had never been out of 
the world. The supplying of the episcopate from the ranks 
of the monks worked beneficially, not only upon the city in 
which the See lay and its immediate circle, but likewise on 

^ Drawn from Montalembert, i. 257-267. 


tlie bishops of the whole provmce, and even yet farther. 
Their apostolical life and action served as a tacit reproach 
to many of their colleagues. The meetings of synods or 
their high rank il the hierarchy gave occasion to exercise a 
most happy influence on the spirit, discipline, and good order 
of the widest circles* 

The nature of the monastic life itself caused it to act as 
an example to the whole secular clergy. Those who live in 
the world are easily affected by its spirit 

The intrinsic force of the monastic life, as well as its 
aptitude for the time in which it appeared, will be further 
shown by comparing together the secular history of the 
Eoman state and the spiritual history of the Christian 
Church, in the time which follows Constantine to the ex- 
tinction of the Western Empire. 

Constantine in 323, by the defeat and subsequent death 
of Licinius, became sole master of the Eoman empire ; it 
is from that time the development of his mind towards the 
Christian Church becomes more visible. The one emperor 
recognised the one Church ; the victorious general had no 
sympathy with insurgent sects. Donatism did not prevail 
with him by its adulation of imperial authority in spiritual 
things. He is true to this recognition of the Church at the 
Nicene Council in 325. In 330 he proclaimed the founda- 
tion of a new capital, situated on the most commandiug site 
in the eastern part of his empire, and he bestowed on it 
the title of New Eome, which from the beginning was not 
only a title, but a great power. His single rule lasted four- 
teen years, from 323 to 337. His intention was to make 
his new capital Christian from the beginning in its build- 
ings, in its inhabitants, in its worship, and above all, in its 
influence upon his whole empire. But from the time that 
he was seated in an Oriental capital he became himself, at 
least he began to be, an Oriental sovereign. The primary 
and all-important relation between the two great powers 
which he had recognised at the first General Council of the 
Church, began to be impaired ; but his death in 337 brought 
with it great alteration. Instead of his firm if somewhat 
despotic grasp, the empire was divided between his three 
sons; instead of the one man who was above other men by 


the head and shoulders, three men, all of them incompetent 
for the secular government of vast regions, inherited only 
what he could leave — the bodily structure of bis realm. 
The West was divided between Constans and Constantine 
II. ; the former took lUyria, Italy, and; Africa, the latter 
Gaul, Spain, and Britain. Both these princes were faithful 
to the Church, but lived at enmity with each other. The 
third brother, Constantius, who received as his portion the 
whole East, was from the beginning doubtful in his faith, and 
speedily fell into the hands of the faction among the Eastern 
bishops who strove to make the emperor their own by yield- 
ing to him in the Church a power like that which he possessed 
in the State. Constantine II. died three years after his 
father, in 340, and the territory of his rule accrued to his 
brother Constans; but by the death of Constans in 350 
Constantius became sole emperor, and then during eleven 
years he used the vast imperial power both in East and 
West to subdue the bishops to that Arian doctrine which 
he chose to patronise. Thus the time from 350 to 361 is 
one of the darkest in the history of the Church. At hL«« 
death, at the age of forty-four, after receiving baptism on 
his death-bed from an Arian bishop, the peril which he had 
created was so great that the accession of an apostate, who 
preferred heathenism to the Christian faith, seemed a relief 
to the sufTering Church. The apostate ruled less than two 
years, and was succeeded in 363 by Jovian, whose death 
in 364 gave place to Valentinian. 

The accession of Valentinian fully revealed the permanent 
weakness of the empire. The new sovereign found himself 
compelled to appoint a colleague for the eastern part, and 
selected his brother, Yalens. From this time forth the 
empire, of which the seat was in Constantinople, became 
practically, in its administration, a distinct empire from that 
whose ruler resided no longer at Home but at Milan, or 
Treves, or Eavenna, some city, in fact, where he could hold a 
camp or maintain a fortress against the threatening Northern 

The division of the empire at Coustantine's death was in 
itself a great blow, but his sons were likewise disunited, 
and also of marked incapacity for government. The third 


son, who during eleven years ruled the whole empire, was 
unsound in his own belief, and a flagrant persecutor of the 
faith which his father had received at the great Council, 
and so thoroughly tyrannical that he strove to make his 
own will a law for the bishops, whom his father had recog- 
nised as speaking with the authority of Christ in their 
conciliar decrees. At his death, his cousin, the apostate to 
heathenism, succeeded to the throne, which he held only for 
twenty months. When Jovian was elected by a defeated 
army in the enemy's country, at a moment of the utmost 
danger, to take his place, a Catholic, with the best intentions 
to heal the wounds which the last and favourite son of 
Constantine had inflicted both on Church and State, he 
was carried off by a sudden illness in a few months. Thus 
when Valentiuian succeeded in the year 364, only twenty- 
seven years after the death of the great Constantine, a Pope 
had been banished from Eome, and the episcopate, even in 
th6 West, but much more in the East, been oppressed and 
dislocated. The empire which Constantine had held in his 
hand was far from being in the hands of his successors. It 
required the utmost exertions of Valentinian to maintain 
peace in the West As for the East, he felt it necessary to 
surrender that throne to another. He chose a brother. 
Valens, at the time of his choice, was supposed to be a 
Catholic, but he speedily fell under the influence of Eudoxius, 
the Arian Bishop of Constantinople, and during fourteen 
years, until he lost his life in battle with the Goths, to 
whom he had given the Arian instead of the Catholic doc- 
trine, he used the power of an absolute ruler against the 
Eastern Catholics. 

Valentinian I., a man of energy and fairness, had not 
allowed the tyranny which afflicted the Eastern Catholics 
to be practised in the West, but he died suddenly and pre- 
maturely, after a reign of eleven years, in 375, leaving two 
young sons, Gratian and Valentinian II. When, three 
years later, in 378, Valens had been overthrown by the 
Goths in a defeat which, for completeness, the Eomans 
likened to that of Cannae, the young Gratian sought suc- 
cour to his own inability to save the Eastern empire by 
summoning Theodosius, the son of a general lately executed 


through a court intrigue, to take the Eastern throne. A 
short reprieve for the shaken empire \ras found in the fifteen 
years granted to Theodosius ; yet iu this time he witnessed 
the murder of the young Gratian, and was obliged to tolerate 
the contriver of that murder, the usurper Maximos, as em- 
peror in Gaul for five years, from 383 to 388. After this 
he had to witness the murder of a second brother of his 
wife, Yalentinian II., in 392, and to overthrow a second 
usurper in Some, Eugeuius, in the same year. He had 
been emperor in the East for thirteen years from 379 to 
392, and then became, during three years, from 392 to 395, 
sole ruler, and was taken away before the age of fifty, Iiav- 
ing done the utmost which valour in the field, and wisdom 
in the cabinet, and fidelity to the Catholic faith could do to 
stem the advance of evils and maintain a Roman empire. 

In the fifty-eight years which elapsed from the death of 
Constantine in 337 to the death of llieodosins in 395, the 
power of the Soman empire had been greatly shaken. Both 
these great men had known how to use the valour and 
vigour of the Northern barbarians to recruit their legions 
and to supply themselves with officers and office-holders 
whom they could trust Alaric was a faithful Soman general 
when he served Theodosius, and Theodosius chose Stilicbo 
for the husband of his niece Serena, whom he loved as a 
daughter, besides making him his chief counsellor and mini- 
ster in the West. But the empire depended on a contiuuance 
of such men to rule it as Constantine and Theodosius. Evea 
under them the settled countries of the vast readm heaved 
with insurrections, while the Northern tribes pressed nearer 
and nearer in their efTorts to reach the great sea, all w*hose 
shores smiled upon Soman lauds. Great as was the weak- 
ness introduced by the division of the empire, which we 
may say became definitive at the election of Yalentinian ia 
364, Theodosius left it standing. But he was compelled to 
leave it in a condition which entailed a rapid falL He 
could only give to the East for ruler his son Arcadius, who 
had scarcely reached manhood, and to the AVest his son 
Honorius, a child of eleven, both of them born in the purple, 
nursed in Oriental luxury, and all their lives utterly devoid 
ot capacity to maintain the empire whose fail had been 


delayed by the valour and conduct of their father. From 
the time that Arcadius was enthroned the East became a 
government of eunuchs and favourites, presently to become 
the court of an empress proud of her beauty and influence. 
In the West Honorius preserved an appearance of power 
so long as he depended on the counsels of Stilicho, and was 
saved by the wonderful victories which repulsed for a time 
the advancing barbarian hosts. It is indeed still a problem 
of history whether Stilicho was as faithful as he was valiant 
and skilful, but it is undoubted that his sacrifice by Hono- 
rius left Eome a prey to Alaric The Gothic chief, who had 
obeyed an emperor at once feared and respected, scorned 
obedience to the incapable son who had put to death not 
only his own friend and comrade, but likewise the defender 
given by his father, and closely allied to him. And so the 
great city, whose name alone expressed the strength and 
fortune of the empire, fell, because its rival in the East 
preferred the ruin of Rome to the occupation of Constanti- 
nople by a barbarian conqueror. Thus, even under the sons 
of Theodosius, the calamity of a divided empire reached its 
full height. Constantine's new Some gave the Goths pos- 
session of the old. Nor was even this all, for ninety-eight 
years only after his decree of toleration, his empire in the 
West fell a prize to the barbarian, and the Emperor Valens, 
his own successor, seated in the new capital, by hiui intended 
to be Christian, had led the greatest and noblest of those 
barbarian peoples unconsciously to take the Ariau perversion 
for the real Christian faith. 

It is enough to sum up the result of the fifth century, and 
needless to tell again the details of its disasters. When, in 
476, Odoacer the Herule deposed the last of the eight phan- 
toms who had been styled at Eome emperors, and required 
the Senate to send back to the emperor at Constantinople 
the symbols of sovereignty, and to declare at the same time 
that no emperor was needed for the West, Gaul and Spain, 
and Africa and Britain had ceased to belong to the empire,^ 
and had become a prey to a multitude of Northern in; 
vaders. Eome had been taken and plundered by Alar^ 
the Goth in 410, had been threatened with utter destri 
tion by Attila in. 451.,. and only. served by the unarnjfecj 



presence of St Leo, in whom " the scourge of God " recog- 
nised the pastor of his people, defended by St. Peter and St. 
PauL A few years later, in 45 5, Borne had been plundered 
afresh by the Arian Vandal Genseric, and yet again by the 
Arian Visigoth Eicimer, even more severely, in 472 ; and, 
thereupon, the fate coming on Italy was to be ruled for fifty 
years by two Arians, Odoacer the Herule from 476 to 493, 
and Theodoric the Ostrogoth from 493 to 526. Both these 
ruled by a pretended title from the Byzantine emperor, but 
in reality by their own strength. 

Tlie course of the empire, from the single rule of Con- 
stantine in 323 to the death of Theodoric in 526, is thus 
marked out as a train of perpetual calamities. Constan- 
tine's dominion in the West had ended in complete disso^ 
lution, but the Eastern half had saved itself for a further 
time by the surrender of Italy, and of the countries belonging 
to Italy, not only to the Korthem invaders, but to the 
Arian misbelief. 

When we turn to the history of the Church in the same 
two hundred years dating from the single monarchy of Con- 
stantine, we find the con version of that emperor stand likewise 
at the head of a new era in the Church's spiritual work.* 
With the co-operation of the Church's three great Sees of 
Borne, Alexandiia, and Antioch, Constantino caused the first 
General Council to be held in the year 325. But the hold- 
ing of such a Council, under the sanction and protection of 
the Boman emperor, was a public proclamation of union 
between the two great powers which conduct between them 
the undivided life of man, that one life on earth which 
procures for him all natural goods, and gains for him the 
goods of another, better, permanent existence. This one 
imperishable glory belongs to Constantine, that he expunged 
the enmity which had inspired three centuries of Pagan 
persecution, and for this the Fathers, even after they had 
witnessed the calamities which had sprung from his later 
despotism and his breaking away from his first generosity, 

^ A reference here to vol. v. pp. 384-386, in which the four things here noted 
Are mentioned : I. beginning of union between the two powers ; 2. of freedom 
to the Church in her action as one body ; 3. of Papal deliverance from Pagan 
oppression ; 4. of freedom to proclaim doctrine, hence the impulse to theology. 


still pronounced him blessed. And this his first action at 
the Council, at which he did not sit or vote among the 
bishops, but acknowledged their freedom to form a spiritual 
judgment, and the authority of that judgment when formed 
by them, was indeed the beginning of a new time, which 
neither his own listening to the flatteries of unfaithful 
bishops, nor the extravagant despotism of his son Constan- 
tius, could abrogate, but only reduce to a temporary per- 
plexity. And again that same action of his delivered the 
successor of St. Peter from the superincumbent weight of 
Pagan oppression, and enabled him to act as chief bishop 
among all the bishops of the world, and by this public action 
to be no longer a latent but an avowed power. The gift 
of an imperial palace and a cathedral in the most stately 
part of Rome, great as it was, was yet surpassed by the 
congregation of the whole body of the episcopate, wherein 
an absent Pope was recognised by his legates, representing 
in their persons the whole West, and further presiding over 
those whose conciliar decrees in the estimation of a Koman 
emperor conveyed the doctrine of Christ. Again, the hold- 
ing of such a Council proclaimed to all that the doctrine of 
the Church was not that of a suspected and proscribed 
malefactor, but of a power free to show, exhibit, and expand 
itself. It contained in itself the promise of a theology 
which was to spring with a force hitherto unexperienced 
out of its very bosom. And to reach the value of these four 
things we must consider not only each by itself, but all of 
them together, working simultaneously, and accumulating 
their power by co-operation. And from the time of Con- 
stantino to the present day, a period of more than fifteen 
hundred years, these four results of his conduct have not 
ceased to exist. 

Let us take the Kicene Council as standing the first 
among a number of subsequent Councils, From 3 2 5 to the 
Council of Chalcedon in 45 1 is a period of 1 26 years. This 
period witnesses the dissolution of the Boman empire in the 
West; it is spent by the Church in establishing the full 
doctrine of the Incarnation. That Godhead of Christ which 
was impeached by Arius is asserted, not only by the 318 
Fathers at Nicsea, but, after forming the battlefield for a 


number of Councils between 325 and 380, prevails in spite 
of the tyranny of the Emperors Constantias and Yalens, and 
is accepted as the test of Christian faith, by Pope Daroasos 
confirming the decrees of the Eastern bishops whom Theo- 
dosius had assembled, and by the imperial law which recog- 
nised Damasus at Eome and Peter at Alexandria as teaching 
what was the standard of Catholic truth upon the highest of 
all subjects, the being of God, while those who denied it were 
to suffer " the infamy of heresy." 

Fifty years later, twenty years after Borne had been taken 
by the Goths, when all secular power was lodged in Con- 
stantinople, the Archbishop of that city, renowned for his 
eloquence, and the favourite of the emperor, assaulted the 
dignity of the Blessed Virgin, which was part of the mystery 
of the Incarnation, and thereby caused her to be solemnly 
proclaimed as the mother of God in the first General Council 
at Ephesus. And yet again, in 45 1, another attempt, spring- 
ing also from Constantinople, this time not in her bishop, 
but in the person of an aged abbot, which touched in an 
opposite direction, but with equally fatal efiect, the Person 
of Christ, led to the discomfiture of the Eutychean heresy. 

One character belongs to this conciliar action, that of 
elucidating and building up doctrine to its full consistency, 
of maintaining what has been handed down, of resisting 
incoherence and ambiguity. 

Exactly contemporaneous with this action of Councils 
is the efflorescence of Christian literature, beginning "with 
Athanasius and ending with Leo. No other like period 
was granted to the ancient Church, nor can any reason 
be assigned why it commenced with Athanasius, or why it 
ended with Leo; but in it all that concerned the Person 
of Christ, the nature and prerogatives of His Church and 
kingdom, was considered on every side by many minds. 
The advance of Christian doctrine by its fuller comprehen- 
sion was thus carried on during this whole period, so that 
the description of development which occurs in the work 
of Vincent of Lerins in 434 seems rather a transcript of 
the Church's history from the beginning down to that time, 
than anything devised by the writer. 

When St. Leo, by his great letter, set his seal upon the 


perfect doctrine of the Incarnation, at the same time annul- 
ling by his single voice the legitimately called General 
Council of Ephesus in 449, which had attempted to support 
the heresy of Eutyches, we must bear in mind the im* 
mense growth of the Christian mind and thought which, 
since the Nicene Council had sprung up in the Fathers, 
elsewhere commemorated.^ The works of three among 
them, Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, and Augustine, are 
themselves like worlds. In time it would require a long 
life, and in ability no slight powers of mind, to embrace 
the whole doctrine of the last one alone. In the 130 years 
which produced these Fathers, the Church had been fighting 
for her life against the most destructive of heresies, since 
it was levelled at the Person of her Lord and Maker, and 
the most ruinous of schisms, since it was able to fatally 
divide the African- episcopate. Exactly that time of the 
empire which surrendered to barbarian occupation all the 
countries of the West, the fruit of Boman fortitude and 
wisdom during 800 years, showed how " all Christian ideas 
are magnified in the Church." There is conciliar action, 
there is mental power in the multiplication and range of 
authors ; there is a third thing no less in progress all the 
time — the Church becomes more definite in all the parts of 
her government. The majesty of the Eoman peace, that 
one great result of the imperial rule which fixed itself in 
the mind and afifections of so many nations, was broken at 
last by an indefinite number of Northern raiders or pirates, 
who, becoming chiefs for the time absolute among their 
people by the necessity of warfare, seized what parcels of 
territory they could lay hold of in Gaul, and Spain, and 
Britain, as a wild beast seizes so much fiesh of his victim. 
Gepids, and Herules, and Sueves, Burgundians and Vandals, 
were continually occupying territory, in perpetual conflict 
with each other, as the Saxons most of all divided one 
small island, wasting their conquests and each other for 
generations. But at this moment, while the Western 
empire was breaking up, the Pope with increasing power 
dealt with four successive heresies. As Silvester condemned 
Arius, so Innocent preserved the doctrine of grace against 

^ For which see vol. v. pp. 383-491. 


Pelagius, Celestine guarded the Person of our Lord against 
Nestorius, and Leo completed the victory against Eutyches. 
The growth of government kept pace with the expansion 
of learning and the consolidation of doctrine. There was 
one and the same idea in the Nicene decree which con- 
demned Alius and the letter of St. Leo which unmasked the 
dangerous exaggeration of Eutyches. Arius and Eutyches 
seemed at the opposite poles from each other ; both ended 
in the cession of Egypt by the faithless Monophysite to 
Mohammed, the complete Arius. 

At the time when the great wisdom and firm character 
of St. Leo was protecting and establishing the doctrine of 
the Incarnation, Attila was threatening Eome itself with 
destruction. Leo himself averted that danger. But hardly 
had he confirmed the fourth Council, at the request of the 
Council itself, and at the earnest entreaty of the Emperor 
Marcian, when the Vandal Genseric got possession of 
Eome, carried into captivity the widowed empress with 
her daughters, the eldest of whom he made to marry his 
son. Then succeeded that agony of twenty years on which 
followed the abolition of the Western emperor. The great 
enemy of the Christian faith in our times wrote the truth 
that " the warlike barbarians of Scythia and Germany had 
subverted the empire of the Eomans." How was the Pope 
left ? Under hostile domination, that of an Arian Herule, 
captain of free lances, who held all Italy in his grip. An 
insurgent emperor, possessing for a few months the Byzan- 
tine throne, was trying to force upon Eastern bishops another 
doctrine than that of St. Leo, which was followed by the 
lawful emperor pursuing a like course in a document drawn 
up by the Archbishop of the Eastern capital himself. 
Acacius thought the time propitious to make the primacy 
of the Church follow the Western empire to Byzantium. 
The Pope was left nothing but his apostolic power. No 
temporal sovereign supported the Catholic faith. For 
thirty-four years, from 484 to 518, a succession of Popes 
defended St Leo's doctrine and government solely by the 
apostolic power against which Acacius had risen, and at 
the end of that time, the East, the bishops, the abbots, the 
senate, the emperor, the archbishop who had taken the place 


of Acacius, acknowledged together that " the solidity of the 
Christian religion rested entire and perfect in the Apostolic 

Thus the Apostolic See traversed the first fifty years since 
the Western empire had been extinguished with an acknow- 
ledgment of all that it claimed from its Eastern rival — an 
acknowledgment surpassing in force and definiteness every- 
thing which had occurred to that time. It would be diffi- 
cult to construct in words a more stringent statement that 
its doctrinal decision was infallible than that given by the 
Eastern patriarch at the head of the whole people who 
constituted what remained of the Eoman empire. At the 
time the sole emperor was seated at Byzantium. An Arian 
king had ruled not Italy only, but a large surrounding terri- 
tory with moderation and great renown for twenty-five 
years, and had enlaced with Arian connections of his family 
all the Western governments except that portion of Gaul 
which was held by Clovis. The eldest daughter of the 
Church had indeed been born when Clovis was converted 
to the Catholic faith in 496, but it would have required the 
foresight of a prophet to discern those acts of God which 
were to be done by the Franks.^ It was the only gleam 
of light presented by the temporal governments in the West. 

Thus at the very time during which the Western empire 
w^as hastening to irreparable dissolution, the Church of God 
was showing a perpetual development in doctrine, in govern- 
ment, in defence of those great mysteries which encompass 
and attend upon the Incaraation of her Lord. Of these 
developments no one was more fruitful than that which 
dates also from the assembling of the first General Council, 
the public introduction of the monastic life. If its origin 
amid the deserts of Egypt, in the person of Antony, two 
hundred years before, when the empire of Constantine was 
at its height, was wonderful, no less wonderful was the new 
growth it was to take, in the midst of universal calamity, 
from the person of a Roman noble, who, in his search after 
the perfection of Christian life, fled for refuge into the 
Samnite mountains. 

At the birth of St. Benedict in 480, the state of Europe 

^ See vol. vi. p. i68. ^ Acta Dei per Francos. 

12Q Monastic life 

was miserable. Italy was groaning under OJoacer the 
Herule, Spain and Aquitaine under Alaric the Visigoth, and 
the north of Spain under the Sueves. All of these were 
Arians; the Burgundians, also Arians, occupied a large 
part of Gaul ; Childeric, king of the Franks, was an idolater ; 
the Saxons, likewise idolaters, were in possession of Eng- 
land. When, before the age of sixteen, Benedict withdrew 
from Borne in 493, Theodoric the Ostrogoth had, after a 
long contest, inflicting the most cruel suflerings on Italy, 
conquered Odoacer and put him to death at a banquet. 
Pope Gelasius during his five years' pontificate was fighting 
an heroic battle in defence of the Council of Chalcedon and 
of the intrinsic liberty of the Church against the sole 
Boman emperor, Anastasius. Clovis, with his chief Franks, 
had not yet been baptized. Neither Italy, nor Spain, nor 
Gaul, nor Germany, nor Britain offered any hope to the Pope, 
who courageously proclaimed the principate of the Holy See, 
the second rank belonging to Alexandria, and the third to 
Antioch, and the acknowledged three Councils of Nicaea, 
Ephesus, and Chalcedon, while he pronounced in synod of 
Constantinople that "it holds no rank among bishops.'* ^ We 
may say that the full misery which the Northern barbarians 
had brought upon Europe was at its height ; for it was not 
a stable conquest, but a perpetually changing succession of 
invaders, whose boundaries fluctuated ; an ever-new inter- 
ference with the possession of the land ; a multitude of 
diverse tribes, destitute of cohesion with each other, and the 
Arian yoke besides imposed on Catholics. At that moment 
a Boman youth of high birth deserted his father's palace and 
occupied a cave in the mountains above Subiaco. There, 
by the sole force of his character and the renown of his 
sanctity, he set up twelve monasteries, and founded a mode 
of life which provided the safest resource against human 
miseries. And indeed almost all Europe in that century of 
Benedict received the true religion through the labours of 
monks." ^ The words in which, sixty years after him, St. 

* See vol. vi. pp. 115, ii6. 

^ " Qiia^i funestissima ilia setate comparatum fuisset hoc vivendi institutum 
tntissimum ad versus bumanas mis^rias refugiiim. £t quedem Earopa fere 
iota Benedict! sseculo monachis adiaborantibus veram religionem suscepit." — 
Acta Sanctorum Ordinis St, Benedicte, MabiUon, vol. i. Frsefatio, p. xii. 


Gregory the Great recorded his life are these: "As God's 
servant daily increased in virtue, and became continually 
more famous for miracles, many were by him in the same 
place drawn to the service of Almighty God, so that, by 
Christ's assistance, he built there twelve abbey?, over which 
he appointed governors, and in each of them he placed 
twelve monks, and a few he kept with himself, namely, such 
as he thought would more profit and be better instructed 
by his own presence. At that time also many noble and 
religious men of Home came unto him and committed their 
children to be brought up under him for the service of God. 
Tlien also ^quitius delivered him Maurus, and Tertullus 
the senator brought Placidus, being their sons, of great hope 
and towardness ; of which two, Maurus, growing to great 
virtue, began to be his master's coadjutor, but Placidus as 
yet was but a boy of tender years." ^ 

After a stay of thirty-five years in the mountain above 
Subiaco, Benedict withdrew from his twelve monasteries in 
the year 529. Three years before his farther retreat the 
settled government of Theodoric had ceased, and the attempt 
to rule Italy with Gothic valour and Eoman counsel had 
broken down. Benedict founded his new monastery at 
Monte Cassino. He ruled it during fourteen years until 
his death in 543. He was there when Eome was captured 
by Belisarius in December 536, the first of its five captures 
which marked the extreme miseries of the Gothic war. One 
of these preceded the death of Benedict : four more were 
to follow. He witnessed the victories of Totila, and by the 
sole majesty of his presence subdued him and made him 
human. It was during the thirty-five years he spent at 
Subiaco and the fourteen at Monte Cassino that, from the 
experience he bad of his disciples, he drew up that rule 
which was to be embraced by so many generations and to 
change the face of Europe. Of this rule St. Gregory wrote : 
" I would not have you ignorant but that the man of God, 
among so many miracles for which he was so famous in 
the world, was also sufficiently learned in the teaching of 
doctrine, for he wrote a rule for his monks both excellent 
for discretion and also eloquent for style. Of whose life 

^ St Gregory, DuJogaes, Book ii. oh. 3, old translation. 



and conversation if any be curious to know further, he may 
in the institution of that rule understand all his manner of 
life and discipline, for the holy man could not otherwise 
teach than himself lived." ^ 

Another incident recorded by St. Gregory will be suffi- 
cient to give a picture of the state of Italy and of the 
character of Benedict. " There was a certain Goth called 
Zalla, an Arian heretic, who in the time of King Totila 
persecuted with such monstrous cruelty religious men of the 
Catholic Church, that what priest soever came into his pre- 
sence, he never departed alive. This man on a certain day, 
set upon rapine and pillage, pitifully tormented a peasant, 
who, overcome with the extremity of pain, said that he had 
committed his goods to the custody of Benedict the servant 
of God. This he did that his tormentor, giving credit to 
his words, might at least for a while cease from his horrible 
cruelty. Zalla hearing this, tormented him no longer, but 
binding his arms with strong cords, drove him before his 
horse to bring him to this Benedict, whom he said to have 
his goods in keeping. The peasant thus pinioned, and run- 
ning before Zalla, carried him to the holy man's monastery, 
where he found him sitting before the gate reading a book. 
Then turning back to Zalla, who came after him furious, he 
said, * This is Father Benedict of whom I told you.' Zalla, 
looking upon him in a great fury, and thinking to deal as 
terribly with him as he did with others, screamed out, * Rise 
up, rise up, and deliver to me quickly what thou hast in. 
keeping of this peasant.' The man of God, hearing sucli 
a noise, lifted up his eyes from reading, looked upon him, 
and then on the peasant who was in bonds. Turning his 
eyes upon these bonds, they fell from the man's arms so 
rapidly, that no one could have undone them so quickly. 
When the man who had been bound stood by him suddenly 
free, at such an act of power Zalla fell trembling to the 
ground, and bowing that rigid and cruel neck to Benedict's 
feet, begged for his prayers. The venerable man did not 
rise, but calling for some of his brethren, bid them to take 
him in and give him some refreshment. When he was 
brought back, he told him to refrain from such mad cruelty. 

^ Dialogues, ii. ^6» 


Zalla, thus overcome, retreated, and attempted to take no 
more from the peasant since the man of God had set him 
free, not by a touch, but by a look. This is what I told 
you, that they who more intimately serve God sometimes 
work miracles by the power bestowed on them. For he 
who, while he was sitting, repressed the ferocity of the ter- 
rible Goth, and unloosed with his eyes the knots and cords 
which pinioned the innocent man's arms, plainly showed by 
the quickness of the miracle that he had received power to 
work what he did." ^ 

In the year 543 St. Benedict died and was buried at Monte 
Cassino. Twelve years afterwards the Ostrogothic reign in 
Italy was finally overthrown, and Italy became a province 
of Byzantium under the Greek exarch, whose dominion was 
limited in three years by the incursion of a fresh invading 
host, that of the savage Lombards, which, like Odoacer and 
Theodoric, was under Alboin, an Arian. Eome sunk to its 
lowest point, a garrisoned city in a conquered province, but 
not its capital The exarch had his seat in Bavenna. 

How far had the monastic life gone before it was taken 
up by Benedict ? First, it had lasted full two hundred years 
from its commencement in Antony. From E^ypt it had 
spread throughout the East. The greatest Eastern saints 
had encouraged it by their example, and that Eastern bishop 
distinguished amon^ all for his five banishments and his 
hairbreadth escapes in defence of the Catholic faith from the 
fraud or the force of two tyrants, who propagated the Arian 
heresy with all the power first of the whole empire, then of 
its eastern part, had himself carried it into the West, aud 
written a life of its first patriarch which had become a house- 
hold word. Next to him, the most famous of the Western 
Fathers had made it an institution of his diocese, pointing 
it out to his brethren in the episcopate as the form of an 
episcopal home. It may be said that the three vows on 
which it rested, the unmarried life as its primary basis, the 
life renouncing private property, a renunciation which was 
incompatible with marriage, and the life of obedience, which 
alone could supply a living bond equivalent in the spiritual 
home to the bond of marriage In the secular home, had been 

^ Dialogues, iii. 32. 


universally accepted and acted upon. So far the common 
life which the union of these three conditions expressed had 
been reached. And it was the establishment of this common 
life which so entirely separated the coenobitic institution 
from every form of life which has its root in the union of 
the sexes. But the common life had not been accepted 
generally under one rule. It is true that the rule drawn up 
with great pains by St. Basil had been received in many 
monasteries. But when Cassian visited the East at the 
beginning of the fifth century, he found almost as many 
rules followed in them as there were monasteries. But 
what may seem more strange is, that not every part of a 
monastery followed the same rule. Eules were often mixed, 
and different rules followed by those who dwelt in one house. 
Many practices were derived from the Fathers of the Desert, 
from whom the first impulse to this life as a public insti- 
tution had originally come. Thus there had been a vast 
number leading the coenobitic life, among them great and 
illustrious saints/ but yet to the days of St. Benedict there 
had been no religious order. In places great irregularities 
had happened ; false brethren wandered from city to city, 
from house to house, escaping from discipline, and sullying 
the dignity of their profession. Thus we find at the General 
Council of Chalcedon the Emperor Marcian obtaining a 
decree that henceforth no monastery should be built without 
the consent of the diocesan bishop, and that monks both in 
city and country should be subjected to the local bishop's 
authority under pain of excommunication. He forbade ex- 
pressly their leaving the monastery in which they had been 
first received, or meddling with any business, ecclesiastical 
or secular. 

St. Benedict began his rule in these words : ^ — 
" It is well known that there are four kinds of monks. 
The first are the Coenobites, that is, those in monasteries, 
who live under a rule or an abbot. The second are the 
Anchorites or Hermits, that is, those who, not in the first 
fervour of religious life, but after long probation in the 

* Montalembert, i. 187 ; i. 1 36- 1 37. 

' " The Rule of Our Most Holy Father Saint Benedict," translated by Dom 
Hunter Blair. Burns & Oatos, 1886. 


monastery, have learnt, by the help and experience of others, 
to fight against the devil ; and going forth well armed from 
the ranks of their brethren to the single-handed combat of 
' the desert, are able, without the support of others, to fight 
by the strength of their own arm and the help of God against 
the vices of the flesh and their evil thoughts. A third and 
most baneful kind of monks are the Sarabites, who have been 
tried by no rule nor by the experience of a master, as gold 
in the furnace, but being soft as lead, and still serving the 
world in their works, are known by their tonsure to lie to 
God.^ These, in twos or threes, or even singly, without a 
shepherd, shut up, not in the Lord's sheepfields, but in their 
own, make a law to themselves in their own pleasures and 
desires; whatever they think fit or choose to do, that they call 
holy ; and what they like not, that they consider unlawful. 

" The fourth kind of monks are those called Girovagi, who 
spend all their lives long wandering about dirers provinces, 
staying in different cells for three or four days at a time, 
ever roaming, with no stability, given up to their own plea- 
sures and the snares of gluttony, and worse in all things 
than the Sarabites. Of the most wretched life of these it 
is better to say nothing than to speak. Leaving ihem alone, 
therefore, let us set to work, by the help of God, to lay 
down a rule for the Coenobites, that is, the most stable kind 
of monks." 

Thus the nraker of this rule does not seek to found an 
institute, but, finding it in operation, seeks to regulate it. 

He proceeds to lay down what should be the character 
of the man in whom it is maintained : ' — 

"An abbot who is worthy to rule over the monastery 
ought always to remember what he is called, and correspond 
to his name by his works ; for he is considered to hold the 
place of Christ in the monastery, since he is called by His 
name, as the Apostle says, * Ye have received the spirit of 
the adoption of children, in whom we cry, Abba, Father/ 
And therefore the abbot ought not (God forbid) to teach or 
ordain or command anything contrary to the law of the 
Lord ; but let his bidding and his doctrine be infused into 
the minds of his disciples like the leaven of divine justice. 

^ ** Mentiri Deo per tonsnram noscnntnr." ^ Chap. ii. 


"Let the abbot be ever mindful that at the dreadful 
judgment of God an account will have to be given both of 
liis own teaching and of the obedience of his disciples ; 
and let him know that to the fault of the shepherd shall 
be imputed any lack of profit which the father of the house- 
hold may find in his sheep. Only then shall he be acquitted 
if he shall have bestowed all pastoral diligence on bis un- 
quiet and disobedient flock, and employed all his care to 
amend their corrupt manner of life: then shall he be 
absolved by the judgment of the Lord, and may say to the 
Lord with the prophet, ' I have not hid Thy justice in my 
heart ; I have declared Thy truth and Thy salvation, but 
they despised and condemned me.' And then at length 
the punishment of death shall be inflicted on the dis- 
obedient. Therefore, when any one receiveth the name of 
abbot, he ought to govern his disciples by a twofold teach- 
ing — that is, he should show forth all goodness and holiness 
by his deeds rather than his works, declaring to the intel- 
ligent among his disciples the commandments of the Lord 
by words, but to the hard-hearted and the simple-minded 
setting forth the divine precepts by the example of his 
deeds. Let him make no distinction of persons in the 
monastery. Let not one be loved more than another, unless 
he be found to excel in good works or in obedience. Let 
no one of noble birth be put before him who was formerly 
a slave, unless some other reasonable cause exist for it. 
But if, upon just consideration, it should so seem good to 
the abbot, let him arrange as he please concerning the 
place of any one whomsoever, but otherwise let them keep 
their own places, because, whether bond or free, we are all 
one in Christ, and bear an equal rank in the service of 
one Lord ; for with God there is no respecting of persons. 
Only for one reason are we preferred in His sight : if we 
be found to surpass others in good works and in humility. 
Let the abbot, then, show equal love to all, and let the 
same discipline be imposed upon all according to their 

"The abbot ought always to remember what he is and 
what he is called, and to know that to whom more is com- 
mitted^ from liim more is required ^ and he must consider 


how difficult and arduous a task he hath undertaken, of 
ruling souls, and adapting himself to many dispositions. 
Let hiui so accommodate and suit himself to the character 
and intelligence of each, winuing some by kindness, others 
by reproof, others by persuasion, that he may not only 
suffer no loss in the flock committed to him, but may even 
rejoice in their virtuous increase.^ 

" The abbot is to be chosen by all the brethren, with 
one consent, in the fear of God, for the merit of his life 
and the wisdom of his doctrine, even though he should be 
the last of the community. He that has been appointed 
abbot must ever bear in mind what a burden he has received, 
and to Whom he will have to give an account of his 
stewardship ; and let him know that it beseemeth him more 
to profit his brethren thau to preside over them. He must 
therefore be learned in the law of God, that he may know 
whence to bring forth new things and old ; he must be 
chaste, sober, and merciful, ever preferring mercy to justice, 
that he himself may obtain mercy. Let him hate sin and 
love the brethren ; and even in his corrections let him act 
with prudence, and not go too far, lest while he seeketh too 
eager to scrape off the rust the vessel be broken. Let 
him keep his own frailty ever before his eyes, and remember 
that the bruised reed must not be broken.^ 

"The office of abbot is thus supreme, but it is the 
supremacy of a father.* As often as any important matters 
have to be transacted in the monastery, let the abbot call 
together the whole community, and himself declare what 
is to be settled ; and having heard the counsel of the 
brethren, let him weigh it within himself, and then do 
what he shall judge most expedient. We have said that 
all should be called to council, because it is often to the 
younger that the Lord revealeth what is best ; but let the 
brethren give their advice with all subjection and humility, 
and not presume stubbornly to defend their own opinion, 
but rather let the matter rest with the abbot's discretion, 
that all may submit to whatever he shall consider best. 
Yet, even as it becometh disciples to obey their master, so 
doth it behove him to order all things prudently and with 

1 Chap. ii. > Chap. ]ziv. * Ohap. iiL 


justice. Let all therefore follow the rule in all things as 
their guide, and from it let no man rashly turn aside. 
Let no one in the monastery follow the will of his own 
heart, nor let any one presume insolently to contend with 
his abbot either within or without the monastery. If it 
happen that less important matters have to be transacted 
for the good of the monastery, let the abbot take counsel 
with the seniors only, as it is written, * Do all things with 
counsel, and thou shalt not afterwards repent it.'" 

In all this the rule of St Benedict is carrvin<? out what 
St. Augustine^ had observed a hundred and fifty years 
before in the monasteries of his own time, directed, as he 
expressly says, by one called the father, who was the main- 
spring of the house. This combination of an authority at 
once absolute,^ permanent, and elective, with the obligation 
to take counsel of the whole community, and to act with 
a single regard to its interest, is a principle in which the 
religious life was far in advance of the civil. It may be 
remarked that this rule was issued from St. Benedict's 
monastery at Monte Cassino about the year 535, when 
Justinian was publishing his consolidation of the Bomau 
law; when also his general, Belisarius, was taking posses- 
sion of Rome, deposing Pope Silverius by arbitrary force, 
and commencing that war of the Ostrogothic reign which 
ended in the imposition of a despotism from Byzantium 
more regardless of the good of the subject than any govern- 
ment exercised by persons called Christians down to that 

But the monastery of St. Benedict's rule was, if possible, 
"to be so constituted that all things necessary, such as 
water, a mill, and a garden, and the various crafts may 
be contained within it^o that there may be no need for 
the monks to go abroad^ for this is by no means expedient 
for their souls. And "V^e wish this rule to be frequently 
read in the community, that none of the brethren may 
xcuse himself on the plea of ignorance."^ 

The whole monastic life was built upon obedience.* — ^ 

" The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. 

^ See above, chap. ii. p. 6. " Montalembert, ii. 56, quoted. 

* Chap. livi. * Chap. v. 


This becometh those who hold nothing dearer to them than 
Christ, and who, on account of the holy servitude which 
they have taken upon them, either for fear of hell or for 
the glory of life everlasting, as soon as anything is ordered 
by the superior, suffer no more delay in doing it than if it 
had been commanded by God Himself. It is of these that 
the Lord saith, 'At the hearing of the ear he hath obeyed 
Me/ And again to teachers He saith, 'He that heareth 
you heareth Me.* Such as these, therefore, leaving im- 
mediately their own occupations and forsaking their own 
will, with their hands disengaged, and leaving unfinished 
what they were about, with the speedy step of obedience 
follow by their deeds the voice of him who commands; 
and so as it were at the same instant the bidding of the 
master and the perfect fulfilment of the disciple are joined 
together in the swiftness of the fear of God by those who 
are moved with the desire of attaining eternal life. These, 
therefore, choose the narrow way, of which the Lord saith, 
'Narrow is the way which leadeth unto life;' so that, 
liviug not by their own will, nor obeying their own desires 
and pleasures, but walking according to the direction and 
command of another, they desire to live in community, 
and to have an abbot over them. Such as these without 
doubt fulfil that saying of the Lord, 'I came not to do 
Mine own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.' 

" But this very obedience will then only be acceptable 
to God and sweet to men if what is commanded be done 
not fearfully, tardily, nor coldly, nor with murmuring, nor 
with an answer showing unwillingness; for the obedience 
which is given to superiors is given to God, since He 
Himself hath said, * He that heareth you heareth Me.' 
And it ought to be given by disciples with a good will, 
because God loveth a cheerful giver. For if the disciple 
obey with ill-will, and not merely murmur with his lips, 
but even in his heart, although be fulfil the command, yet 
it will not be accepted by God, who regardeth the heart of 
the murmurer. And for such an action he shall gain no 
reward ; nay, rather he shall incur the punishment due to 
murmurers, unless he amend and make satisfaction." 

But this famous sacrifice carries i^ its hand another. 



" The vice of private ownership is above all to be cut off 
from the monastery by the roots.^ Let none presume to 
give or receive anything without leave of the abbot, nor to 
keep anything as their own, either book, or writing tablet, 
or pen, or anything whatever, since they are permitted to 
have neither body nor will in their own power. But all 
that is necessary they may hope to receive from the father 
of tlie monastery ; nor are they allowed to keep anything 
which the Abbot has not given, or at least permitted them 
to have. all things be common to all, as it is written, 
'Neither did any one say that ought which he possessed 
was his own.' But if any one shall be found to indulge in 
this most baneful vice, and after one or two admonitions 
do not amend, let him be subjected to correction." 

The rule especially provided that none should enter on 
this life without an exact knowledge of its conditions.^ " To 
him that newly cometh to change his life, let not an easy 
entrance be granted, but, as the Apostle saith, *Try the 
spirits, if they be of God.' If, therefore, he that cometh 
persevere in knocking, and after four or five days seem 
patiently to endure the wrongs done to him, and the diffi- 
culty made about his coming in, and to persist in his 
petition, let entrance be granted him, and let him be in 
the guest-house for a few days. Afterwards let him go 
into the noviciate, where he is to meditate and study, to 
take his meals and to sleep. Let a senior, one who is 
skilled in gaining souls, be appointed over him, to watch 
him with the utmost care, and to see whether he is trulv 
seeking God, and is fervent in the work of God, in obedi- 
ence, and in humiliations. Let all the hard and rugged 
paths by which we walk towards God be set before him. 
And if he promise steadfastly to persevere, after the lapse 
of two months let this rule be read through to him, with 
these words, 'Behold the law under which thou desirest 
to fight. If thou canst observe it, enter in ; if thou canst 
not, freely depart.' If he still stand firm, let him be taken 
back to the aforesaid cell of the novices, and again tried 
with all patience. And after a space of six months, let 
the rule be again read to him, that he may know unto 

^ Chap. xxxilL ^ Chap. Iviiu 


what be cometh. Should he still persevere, after four 
months let the same rule be read to him once more. And 
if, having well considered within himself, he promise to 
keep it in all things, and to observe everything that is 
commanded him, let him be received into the community, 
knowing that he is now bound by the law of the rule, so 
that from that day forward he cannot depart from the 
monastery, nor shake from off his neck the yoke of the 
rule, which after such prolonged deliberation he was free 
either to refuse or to accept. 

" Let him who is to be received make, before all, in the 
oratory, a promise of stability, conversion of life, and obedi- 
ence, in the presence of God and of His saints, so that if 
he should ever act otherwise, he may know that he will be 
condemned by Him whom he mocketh. Let him draw up 
this promise in writing, in the name of the saints whose 
relics are in the altar, and of the abbot there present ; and 
let him write it with his own hand, or at least, if he 
knoweth not how, let another write it at his request, and 
let the novice put his mark to it, and place it with his 
own hand upon the altar. When he hath done this, let 
the novice himself immediately begin this verse : * Uphold 
me, Lord, according to Thy word, and I shall live, and 
let me not be confounded in my expectation.' And this 
verse let the whole community thrice repeat, adding thereto 
Gloria Patri. Then let the newly-received brother cast 
himself at the feet of all, that they may pray for him; 
and from that day let him be counted as oue of the com- 
munity. Whatever property he hath, let him first bestow 
upon the poor, or by a solemn deed of gift make over to 
the monastery, keeping nothing of it all for himself, as 
knowing from that day forward he will have no power 
even over his own body. Forthwith, therefore, in the 
oratory let him be stripped of his own garments, where- 
with he is clad, and be clothed in those of the monastery. 
And let the garments that are taken from him be laid by 
and kept in the wardrobe; so that if ever, by persuasion 
of the devil, he consent (which God forbid) to leave the 
monastery, he may be stripped of the monastic habit and 
cast forth. But the form of his profession, which the abbot 


took from the altar, shall not be given back to him, but 
be kept in the monastery." 

One chapter of this rule contains what St. Benedict calls 
" the instruments of good works," in seventy-five precepts, 
of which the first is to love the Lord God with all the 
heart, with all the sou], and with all the strength, and the 
last never to despair of God's mercy. Of the rule as a 
whole the master of Christian eloquence^ has used words 
which dispense with all other words : '' This rule is a 
summing up of Christianity, a learned and mysterious 
abridgment of the whole doctrine of the Gospels, of all 
the institutions of the fathers, of all the counsels of per- 
fection. • Therein appear conspicuous prudence and sim- 
plicity, humility and courage, severity and mildness, liberty 
and dependence. Correction shows its utmost firmness; 
condescendence all its attraction, command all its vigour, 
submission its repose, silence its gravity, and speech its 
grace, strength shows its exercise and weakness its support ; 
and yet he calls it a beginning to nourish you ever iu 

But these words are surpassed by a fact which goes beyond 
all words. When the rule went out from Monte Cassino, 
Europe was prostrated in desolation ; the Goths were being 
cast out of Italy, and rent it as they went. Eome was five 
times taken, and fell into the hands of a Eoman emperor 
whose delegate exceeded in treachery, according to the judg- 
ment of St. Gregory the Great, even the savage Arianism of 
the Lombard who was to come after the Goth. Spain and 
Gaul were trampled down by moving hordes of invaders, 
till the order of civil life was all but extinguished, and 
Gaul alone witnessed seven great deserts where cities had 
been flourishing under the Eoman peace. Hengist and 
Horsa had cast Christ out of England, and substituted the 
altar of blood for the unbloody sacrifice. It was then that 
a succession of twenty generations accepted voluntarily and 
with full knowledge the life delineated in this rule, that 
the very flower of the Teutonic race in all these countries 
embraced that life of triple sacrifice, of virginity or contin- 
ence, renouncing private property, and practising obedience. 

1 Bossuet, Pan^f/yrique de Saint BenoiL 


[The rule of St. Benedict has gone beyond the words of 
Bbssuet, being recorded as the parent of 37,000 religious 
houses ; and to their 600 years of continuous work we owe 
it that "the warlike barbarians of Scythia and Germany," 
after subverting the empire, " embraced the religion of the 

Romans." Y 

^ * Gibbon, chap. zxxviL 



In the year 542, the year preceding his death, the patriarch 
Benedict saw arrive at Monte Cassino two messengers from 
Innocent, Bishop of Mans, who wished to found in his diocese 
a colony of the new Italian coenobites. This Bishop, during 
his pontificate, had already witnessed the foundation of forty 
monasteries. Benedict listened to the request, and intrusted 
the mission to a young deacon named Maurus, sprung, like 
himself, of patrician blood at Rome, and a most strict ob- 
server of his rule. He gave Maurus four companions, with 
a copy of his rule written by his own hand, as well as the 
weight of bread and the measure of wine which each reli- 
gious was to consume in a day. These would serve as the 
invariable standard of that abstinence on which the new 
institution largely rested. 

With this handful of missionaries Maurus left Monte 
Cassino, passed through Italy and the Alps, stopped a 
moment at the Burgundian sanctuary of St. Maurice, and 
visited in the Jura the colonies formed from the great 
monastery of Condat, where he would show his master's 
rule. When he reached the Loire, the successor of the 
bishop who had invited him would not receive him, but he 
was welcomed by Florus, a vicomte governing the country 
under the authority of Theodebert, king of Austrasia, grand- 
son of Clovis. Florus offered him one of his estates for 
settling a colony, and one of his sons of whom to make a 
religious, announcing his own intention to devote himself to 
God. This donation Maurus accepted, provided it was made 
legally before witnesses. " For," he said to the Frank lord, 
"our rule requires especially peace and security." The 
estate was on the banks of the Loire, and there he founded 

the monastery of Glanfeuil, which took afterwards his own 



name, and was called St. Maur-sur-Loire, the first of the 
host of Benedictine monasteries which are so inwoven with 
the history of France. 

That dear son of St. Benedict passed forty years presid- 
ing over his French colony, and saw in it 140 brethren. 
When he died, after retiring during two years to a solitary 
cell, "alone under the eyes of his Heavenly Witness," he 
had dropped a germ into the soil of France which was not 
to perish, and which, a thousand years afterwards, produced 
in the congregation of St. Maur, named after him, a re- 
nowned model of monastic learning. 

The great coenobitic centres in France of Marmoutier, 
Lerins, and Condat had preceded St. Benedict ; but one of 
that very congregation of St. Maur, the most learned 
Mabillon, has recorded the foundation, in that sixth cen- 
tury, of eighty new monasteries in the valleys of the Saone 
aud the Rhone ; of ninety-four in the country from the 
Pyrenees to the Loire ; of fifty-four between the Loire and 
the Vosges ; of ten from the Vosges to the Ehine. The 
establishment, during one century, of 238 monasteries in 
this great region points to a movement of coenobitic life 
which would seem to mean a fresh conversion of the country. 
By degrees every province received monks for apostles, who 
were usually bishops also, and founded dioceses as well as 
monasteries, which would be at the same time citadels and 
seminaries for a diocesan clergy.^ 

A succession of Gallic Councils in this century, following 
the lead of the General Council of Chalcedon, forbad to 
found new monasteries except with cognisance of the bishop, 
and subjected them completely to the bishop's authority. 
The abbots could not absent themselves, nor part with any 
property of the community, without the bishop's permission, 
and once a year were bound to go to receive his advice, or, 
if need be, his correction. By the great number of different 
rules and successive reforms, and also the acts of violence 
and the scandals recorded by Gregory of Tours, we learn the 
great resistance experienced by the Christian ideal of the 
common life. 

The reception of the one Benedictine rule by all these 

^ The above is drawn from Montalembert, sect. vii. 2. 


monasteries was only accomplished gradually and insensibly. 
The rule of St. Coluraba was a formidable rival. But we 
have the strong testimony of St. Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, that 
after St. Benedict's departure from this life, almost the whole 
of Gaul accepted his rule and institutions, and through his 
disciple, St. Maur, and those whom he taught, that rule, 
through long intervals of time, grew up to its perfection, and 
at length embraced all the monasteries in Gallic territory.^ 

The mission of Maurus marks the first meeting of the 
Benedictine rule and the French monarchy. This had 
shortly before made its appearance in the person of Clovis, 
but was to become, during many hiindred years, the faithful 
ally of the religious institution. Floras addressed himself 
to King Theodebert, for a double authorisation : the first, to 
settle in his territory religious from abroad ; the second, to 
be allowed himself to join them. The king sanctioned one 
of his chief officers in thus quitting him. He even attended 
in royal state on the occa,sion, and the Frank sovereign 
meeting Maurus, prostrated himself before the Boman monk, 
as Totila the Goth had prostrated himself before Benedict, 
asked for his prayers, and to have his name inscribed among 
the brethren. Theodebert presented his young son to the 
community, had marked out to him the monks who had 
accompanied Maurus, asked for their names, and embraced 
them with the rest as brethren. He examined their home, 
ate with the monks in the refectory, and ordered his chief 
secretary to draw out/ and seal with his ring a donation of 
land to the monastery. Floras obtained the king's presence 
when he took the habit. He added to his former gifts, 
enfranchised twenty slaves, and laid upon the altar his belt ; 
while the king, at the abbot's request, cut off the first lock 
of his hair, and the other lords present completed his ton- 
sure. The king, before quitting the monastery, saw his friend 
in his new habit, which he charged him to wear with honour, 
as he had his secular dress. 

Thus the two powers which were to found France, direct 
it, and represent it during so many centuries, met for the 
first time. It may serve at least for a picture of the life 
that was beginning between the princes of Teuton race and 

^ Montalembert, ii. 279^ 


the monks, a life repeated Iq countless instances of their 
twofold history.^ 

The three Teutonic peoples who occupied Gaul are tlie 
Burgundians, the Visigoths, and the Franks.^ Many other 
peoples, many particular bands. Vandals, Alains, Sueves, 
Saxons, made raids on its territory ; but some only passed 
through it, others were promptly absorbed, and these small 
partial incursions have no historical importance. The Bur* 
gundians, the Visigoths, and the Franks alone deserve to 
be counted as ancestors of the actual race. The Burgun- 
dians settled themselves definitively in Gaul from the year 
406 to 413. They occupied the country between the Jura, 
the Saone, and the Durance. Lyons was the centre of their 
dominion. The Visigoths, from the year 412 to the year 
450, spread in the provinces comprised between the Ehone 
(including even its left bank south of the Durance), the 
Loire, and the Pyrenees. Their king was seated at Toulouse. 
The Franks, from the year 481 to the year 500, advanced 
in the north of France, and settled themselves between the 
Bliine, the Scheldt, and the Loire, not including Brittany 
and the western portion of Normandy. The capitals ol 
Clovis were Soissons and Paris. Thus at the end of th( 
fifth century the definitive occupation of Gallic territory b; 
the three great Teutonic peoples was accomplished. 

About the year 534 the Burgundian country fell undei 
the yoke of the Franks. From the year 507 to 542 that 
of the Visigoths met with nearly the same lot. At the 
middle of the sixth century the Frank race had spread and 
prevailed through the whole of Gaul. The Visigoths still 
preserved a portion of Languedoc, and claimed some cities 
at the foot of the Pyrenees, but in fact, with the exception 
of Brittany, all Gaul was, if not ruled, at least invaded by 
the Franks. 

These barbaric invasions, taken each by itself, were partial, 
local, momentary ; a band arrived, usually not at all numer- 
ous ; the most powerful, those which have founded kingdoms 
— the band of Clovis, for example — were only about from 

^ The three pages hitherto are all drawn from Montalembert, sect, il 273- 
282, Arrivie des Benedieiins en Oa/ule. 

' Frum Guizot, CivHiiation tn Pranee^ 8th le^on. 


5000 to 6000 men: the whole Burgundian nation did not 
exceed 60,000 men. It passed rapidly over a narrow 
territory, ravaged a district, attacked a city, sometimes with- 
drew, carrying off its booty, sometimes settled itself some- 
where, taking care not to disperse too much ; houses were 
burnt, fields laid waste, crops carried off, men killed or taken 
captive : with this damage done, after a few days the flood 
closed, the mark it made was effaced, the sufferings of indi- 
viduals were forgotten, society reappeared, or seemed at least 
to resume its former state. This is what happened in Gaul 
in the fourth century. 

But human society, what we call a people, is not a simple 
juxtaposition of isolated transitory existences. Had it been 
nothing more, the barbaric invasions would not have pro- 
duced the impression which documents of the time describe. 
During a long time the number of places and of men who 
suffered from them was much less than the number of those 
who escaped ; but the social life of each man is not concen- 
trated in the material space where it takes place, nor in its 
fleeting moment of action. It spreads over all the relations 
which he has contracted with different points of his country, 
and not only over those which he has contracted, but like- 
wise over those which he may contract or only conceive ; it 
embraces not merely the present, but the future. Man lives 
at a thousand points which he does not inhabit, at a thou- 
sand moments which are yet to come. If such a growth 
of his life is cut off, if he is found to shut himself up in the 
narrow limits of his material and actual existence, to make 
himself a point in space and time, social life is mutilated, 
society exists no longer. 

This was the effect produced by those invasions, by the 
starting up of barbarian bands, short, indeed, and limited, 
but for ever recurring, everywhere possible, always threaten- 
ing. They destroyed, first, all regular, habitual, easy corre- 
spondence between different parts of the country ; secondly, 
all security and prospect of the future ; they broke the ties 
which unite together the inhabitants of the same country, 
the moments of the same life ; they isolated men, and the 
days for each man. In many spots and for many years the 
aspect of a country might remain the same, but the social 


organisation was attacked, and the members had no longer 
any hold on each other. The play of the muscles was lost, 
tlie blood no longer circulated freely or surely in the veins. 
Evil broke out now on this point, now on that. A city was 
pillaged, a road made impassable, a bridge broken down, 
such or such communication stopped, cultivation of the land 
became impossible in this or that district: in a word, the 
organic harmony, the general activity of the social body 
became daily impeded, disturbed ; dissolution and paralysis 
made day by day some fresh progress. 

In this manner the Roman society in Gaul was destroyed, 
in very deed destroyed, not in the way that a valley is 
ravaged by a torrent, but as the most solid body is dis- 
organised by a continual infiltration of a foreign substance. 
The barbarians threw themselves unceasingly in the midst 
of all the members of the State, at all the moments of each 
man's life. Such was the dismemberment of the Roman 
empire, the impossibility in which its masters found them- 
selves to hold together its different parts. Thus the imperial 
administration was compelled to retire of its own accord from 
Great Britain, from Gaul, incapable of struggling against the 
dissolution of this vast body. Wliat had taken place in the 
empire was equally taking place in each province ; as the 
empire had been broken up, so each province was breaking 
up ; the districts and the cities became unattached to each 
other, to go back into a local and isolated existence. The 
invasion operated everywhere in the same manner. All 
those bonds by which Rome had succeeded after so many 
efforts to unite with each other the different parts of the 
world, that grand system of administration, of taxes, of 
military service, of public works, of roads, could not be main- 
tained. There only remained what could subsist isolated 
and locally, that is to say, fragments of the municipal 

Even in the cities the old society was far from maintain- 
ing itself in its completeness and strength. Amid the in- 
vasive movement the cities were specially fortresses. The 
people were shut up in them to escape the bands which 
ravaged the country. When the barbarian immigration had 
been in some degree arrested and the new settlers planted 


on the land, still the cities remained fortresses. Instead of 
having to defend themselves against wandering bands, they 
had to defend themselves against neighbours, against greedy 
and turbulent possessors of the country surrounding them. 
Thus behind these feeble ramparts there was little security. 
Cities, indeed, are centres of population and of labour, but 
on certain conditions : on the one hand, that the country 
population shall labour for itself; on the other, that an 
extended and active trade shall be there to consume the 
products of the citizens' labour. If agriculture and trade 
are perishing, the cities wiU perish ; their prosperity and 
strength do not exist apart. Such was the state into which 
the lands of Gaul were falling in the sixth century. The 
cities might escape for a time, but day by day the evil would 
gain on them. It did in fact so gain, and soon this last relic 
of the empire seemed struck with the same feebleness, a prey 
to the same dissolution. Such in the sixth century were the 
general effects upon the Eoman society of the barbarian in- 
vasion and settlement, and these effects apply to the whole 
vast range of country from the Straits of Gibraltar on the 
south to the Eyder on the north, and to the whole of Britain, 
once christianised and civilised under the dominion of Kome, 
now dissevered by bands of Saxons.^ 

We have seen Theodebert, king of Austrasia, grandson of 
Clovis, welcome the foundation of a monastery on the Loire 
in his territory, take part in the reception of a high officer 
in his army, and present it with a donation of land, besides 
prostrating himself before the monk who was founding it by 
mission of St. Benedict ; and these acts fairly represent the 
conduct of the Merovingian race from the time that Clovis, 
in the year 496, with 3000 chief Franks, received baptism. 
The moment was hailed with joy by the chief bishops who 
witnessed it, and undoubtedly the Franks had two great 
merits. They prevented the further occupation of France 
by fresh inundations of barbarian tribes, and moreover, as 
they had never been soiled by the Arian heresy, they kept 
throughout their Christian faith, and subdued both the 
Visigoths, who from the beginning were Arians, and the 
Burgundians, who had fallen for the time a prey to that 

^ Guizot, 8th le9on, translated to '* settlement." 



heresy ;^ but the Christian faith which had mastered their 
convictions found a long resistance in their morals. It 
became, indeed, the well or ill understood principle of their 
public right. They placed bishops among their councillors, 
and the name of the Blessed Trinity at the head of their 
capitulars. Wars with them took a new character and 
became religious wars. When Clovis, at the head of his 
soldiers, declared that he could not endure an Arian Aqui- 
taine, when he fell on the Visigoths and reduced their 
provinces under his power, certainly we need not hesitate 
to doubt that his zeal was disinterested. The whole con- 
quest of Aquitaine is pronounced to be a holy war.* The 
king's messengers came to the tomb of St. Martin at Tours 
to gather a prestige of victory, and as they enter the basilica 
hear the psalm chanted, " Lord, Thou hast girt me with 
courage for battle, Thou hast put mine enemies under my 
feet." Later, the invasion of Burgundy has the same reli- 
gious colouring put upon it. It was to establish the only 
Catholic kingdom, to humiliate unbelievers, to increase the 
inheritance of Christ The same language was used after- 
wards against the Saxons, against the Slavs, against all the 
Northern heathens. Nevertheless, when the Franks put 
the secular power to the service of the Christian religion, 
they laid down the principle on which the whole policy of 
the Middle Ages is based. 

St. Gregory * of Tours records that Clovis, when he con- 
quered the Visigoths, in the midst of his warriors and the 
priests, received from the Emperor Anastasius the title of 
consul, put on the purple robes and wore the crown, and 
mounting his horse, gave largess of gold and silver to those 
around him, and was called from that time consul and 

These were results of the conversion of the Franks. They 
placed secular power under the law of the gospel, checked 
the advance of barbarism, and so far established one Chris- 
tian kingdom. It must be added that the whole Merovingian 
race generally made munificent gifts of land to found monas- 

' Ozanaro, Ger. ii. 60-61. 
^ Muntalembert, ii. 269. 
. ' Hist. iL 38, quoted by Ozanam, p. 64. 


teries. Their lives were passed in the twofold enjoyment 
of war and the chase. In both they came from time to time 
across monks founding as missionaries scattered dwellings 
often in the midst of forests, with the companionship of wild 
beasts. The king, whether hunting or fighting, was often 
indignant at this invasion of his solitude, but ended by 
giving with a lavish hand the territory in which the future 
monastery was placed — a territory at the time of the 
royal gift almost worthless, but which, submitted to the 
careful culture of monastic life during many generations, 
became in time the head of a great lordship, when the 
spiritual descendant of a solitary pilgrim found bifhself 
after hundreds of years a prince of the great Christian 

Therefore Saint Remy^ said to the detractors of Clovis, 
" We must pardon much to him who is become the propa- 
gator of the faith and the saviour of provinces." Thus kind 
words came to be used by Christian authorities to those 
whose public and private life lay under the charge of abomi- 
nable crimes. Again, the Byzantine emperors all thought 
themselves superior theologians to their bishops ; the race of 
Clovis mixed little with sacred dogmas, and except too often 
interfering with episcopal elections in behalf of their ser- 
vants or their favourites, left the Church full independence 
in matters of faith and discipline. . 

One who has well studied their history says,* " It must 
be admitted that the Franks on coming out of the cathedral 
of lieims were not transformed by magic into other men. 
The gentle Sicander did not give up either murdering the 
chiefs of his family or sacking the cities of Aquitaine. He 
left behind him two hundred years of fratricides and of 
impious wars. Gaul saw with fright princes who cut their 
nephews' throats. One such was that Theodebert whom we 
have seen active and present, even a devout worshipper, 
at the foundation of Glanfeuil. Kings and sons of kings 
perished by the dagger of a crowned concubine; while in 
another case, her own trusted but ungrateful nobles tied 
their aged queen, herself of royal Spanish blood, to their 
horse-tails. Their armed bands came down on Burgundy 

^ Montalembert, il 269. ' Ozanam, ii. 57. 


and Auvergne, burning cities and destroying monuments and 
churches, leaving nothing behind but the earth which they 
could not carry away, and going back with long files of 
prisoners in fetters, to be sold in the markets of the 

We cannot deny the barbarity of the sixth, seventh, and 
eighth centuries. We are obliged to believe all that histo- 
rians report of that age of violence, of the crimes which 
stained it with blood, of the disorders which threatened the 
world with eternal night. We must even add to what they 
say. Their accounts will never reach the full number of 
unknown tyrannies, of unavenged ruins, from one end to the 
other of those rich imperial provinces given over to peoples 
who made force their right.^ 

Another great writer" speaks of the wonderful munifi- 
cence of the Merovingian race, their gifts to bishops and 
monks, their not only restoring what they had taken away 
from churches, but giving immense possessions which had 
come by conquest to their royal domain, and how the vast 
farms, in which they lived in royal pomp and as great culti- 
vators, sometimes became religious establishments. But he 
adds : " And yet they were miserable Christians. While 
they respected the liberty of the Catholic faith, while they 
outwardly professed, they broke witliout scruple all its pre- 
cepts, and with them the most sacred laws of humanity. 
They fell prostrate before the tomb of a martyr or con- 
fessor, or having made choice of a bishop without reproach, 
or listened with respect to the voice of pontiflF or monk, 
they were seen sometimes in an excess of passion, some- 
times with cold-blooded cruelty, to give full course to all 
the evil instincts of their savage nature. Their incredible 
perverseness showed itself in those domestic tragedies, in 
fratricidal executions and assassinations, of which Clovis 
gave the first example, which stain ineflfaceably the history 
of his sons and grandsons. Polygamy and perjury mixed 
in their life with a semi-pagan superstition ; and where we 
read their biographies sodden in blood, scarcely traversed 
by some passing gleams of faith and humility, we are 
tempted to believe that in embracing Christianity, they 

^ Ozanam, ii. 506. ' Montalembert, il 269. 


had not given up a single pagan vice nor adopted a single 
Christian virtue." ^ 

Let us here speak of one \rho in her life represents 
adequately the vrhole state of Gaul in the middle of the 
sixth century. A captive princess, forced to marry her 
captor, and so dwelling for six years by the side of the 
most cruel and voluptuous of Merovingian kings, and escap- 
ing at last from him through the murder of her brother, 
Eadegonda, is the first queen to submit to the monastic 

In the year 529 she had fallen into the hands of the 
Frank king, Clotaire L, when, with his brother Thierry L, 
he had conquered Thuringia. Even in extreme youth her 
beauty was so great that the brothers quarrelled for her 
possession. When she fell to Clotaire, he caused a careful 
education to be given to her with the intention of manying 
her. And here she received from her captivity itself one 
great blessing. Her family had been pagan before the 
capture of Thuringia, but Clotaire caused her to be care- 
fully instructed in the Christian religion, and from the time 
of her baptism she showed how deeply she had received 
into her heart the mysteries of the faith. She grew np 
not only with a most distinguished beauty, but with a 
most uncommon piety and cultivated mind. At the age 
of eighteen Clotaire carried out his resolution to marry 
her, and she tried in vain to escape the crown which he 
imposed on her. He made her against her will a queen, 
and after his fashion was greatly attached to her. He 
could only complain that she was more desirous to be a 
nun than a wife. But at the end of six years he put to 
death, for some unexplained reason, her young brother, and 
she obtained permission from Clotaire to leave him. She 
quitted his palace at Soissons, and with great difficulty 
induced Medard, Bishop of Noyon, to receive her as a 
deaconess. Then, using the liberty she had thus obtained, 
she passed from one sanctuary to another, ofifering at them 
her royal jewels and vestments. She rested for a time at 
Tours by St. Martin's tomb, a place of pilgrimage where 
all who were in trouble flocked. Then she seated herself 

^ Drawn from Montalembert, ii. 334-356. 


on a domain in Poitou, which her husband had granted 
her, and there the young queen of twenty- four practised 
the most rigorous austerities of the monastic life, and was 
especially devoted in discharging to the poor and sick the 
most repulsive services. 

A rumour came that the king wished her !bo return to 
him. " I had rather die," she said, " than be delivered 
again to an earthly king." She took refuge by the tomb 
of St. Hilary at Poitiers, and Clotaire, ruled again by a 
religious fear, granted her permission to build a monastery 
there and to enclose herself. When it was finished, she 
entered it in triumph through a host of spectators, who 
crowded not only the streets, but the roofs of the houses 
to see her pass. 

Again she was alarmed by the report that Clotaire had 
come to Tours, under pretext of devotion, but with the in- 
tention to come on to Poitiers and claim again one whom 
he called his dear queen. In that distress she betook 
herself to St. Germain, then Bishop of Paris. He came 
to the king at the shrine of St. Martin, and besought 
him on his knees, with tears, not to go on to Poitiers. 
Clotaire recognised the voice of Badegonda in the words 
of St. Germain, but he recognised also that he did not 
deserve to have for queen a woman who had always pre- 
ferred the will of God to his own. Clotaire, in his turn, 
threw himself at the bishop's feet, and asked him to obtain 
Eadegonda's pardon for what bad counsel had led him to 
intend against her. And from that time he left her in 

Thus Eadegonda passed the last forty years of her life 
in the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers, which the 
king from whose side she had fled enabled her to found. 
She erected close to her monastery a college of monks, 
whose duty it was to serve it. The two houses formed the 
first example in Gaul of those double monasteries which are 
found so frequently in history. The female community 
was very numerous. The queen drew round her as many 
as two hundred of diverse race and condition, among whom 
were members of senatorial Gallo-Roman families, and five 
Prank princesses of Merovingian blood. But she would 



not be herself superior; she selected for abbess a young 
pupil of her own, named Agnes. She restricted herself 
to the rank and duties of a simple religious; in her turn 
she cooked, drew water from the well, carried heavy burdens 
of wood, washed the dishes, cleansed the houses, cleaned 
the shoes of the nuns while they slept. Nevertheless she 
continued her patristic readings; she studied St. Gregory 
and St. Basil, St. Athanasius, St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, St. 
Jerome, St. Augustine, Sedulius, and Paul Orosius. She 
continued her care of the poor, and shrunk not from kiss- 
ing the wounds of leprous women. But all this humility 
did not prevent her being considered, not only by the 
nuns, but by the whole Church, as the real superior of the 
monastery she had founded. At her request the bishops 
of the second Council of Tours sanctioned the irrevocable 
cloistering of consecrated virgins, according to the rule of 
St. Csesarius, which she went to Aries to study, and brought 
back in all its severity as that great bishop had established 
it in the previous generation for the house governed by his 
sister. She sent to the Emperor Justin at Constantinople 
to ask of him a particle of the true cross, which he granted 
her, and which she received with great joy. And on the 
reception Venantius Lius Fortunatus, then her secretary, 
who became twelve years after her death Bishop of Poitiers, 
composed the two hymns " Vexilla regis " and " Pange 
lingua," which the Church for more than twelve hundred 
years has made her own. 

But this cloistered queen, whose life was the most severe 
of all her two hundred nuns, kept her eyes also upon the 
Merovingian princes of her time. She did all that was 
possible to lessen the enmity of two wives of her husband's 
sons, which was the source of crimes innumerable in the 
royal family. She wrote to the kings one after another, and 
to the chief Prankish lords, entreating them to watch over 
the interests of their people. 

To the day of her death she carried next to her skin an 
iron chain, the gift of a nobleman of Poitou named Junian, 
who supported a large house of monks under the Benedictine 
rule, lately introduced in Gaul. He maintained numerous 
herds and flocks in order to supply the peasants with 


their greatest needs in clothing, eggs, and food. He wore 
no other dress than what the queen spun for him. They 
had agreed to pray for each other alter their death, and 
they died on the same day and hour — the messengers who 
left Saint Cross at Poitiers and the monastery of Junian 
met midway, bearing news of the death both of queen and 

At last, in the year 587, St. Gregory, Bishop of Tours, 
has recorded for us what he saw at her death. As she lay in 
her coffin, her beauty was still dazzling. Around it the two 
hundred nuns whom she had drawn out of the world chanted 
sorrowfully, with passionate interruptions of grief, as he 
accompanied her body to the cemetery, to which the severe 
enclosure prescribed by Kadegonda, according to the rule 
of St. Caesarius, forbade the nuns to follow ; he saw them 
crowding the windows, the walls, and the battlements of the 
monastery, beseeching with loud cries that her body might 
rest a moment under a tower within the circuit, whilst; their 
sobs and lamentations subdued the voice of the chanters, 
and oflfered a last homage to the royal foundress. Before 
her death she had drawn up a sort of will, in which she 
called herself nothing but Eadegonda the Sinner, and placed 
her dear monastery under the protection of St. Martin and 
St. Hilary, entreating bishops and kings to treat as despoilers 
and persecutors of the poor those who should attempt to 
trouble the community or depose the abbess. 

This picture of the contrasts afforded by the sixth century 
would not be complete without adding that the two princesses 
who formed part of the community at Badegonda's death 
were stirred up by their own furious passions, and raised such 
a storm against the abbess, that the monastery fell into the 
utmost disorder, and after a series of the most shocking 
scandals it required all the authority of the neighbouring 
bishops, as well as that of the kings, Gontran of Burgundy 
and Childebert of Austrasia, uncle and cousin of the two 
chief criminals, to restore the abbess and recover the monas- 
tery.^ Thus we have together nuns whose charity to others 
is only exceeded by their severity to themselves, and nuns in 
league with bandits and lost to all moral sense. Daughters 

^ Montalembert, ii. 362. 


of Frank and German kings, one a queen reaching the 
height of sanctity, others inflicting or submitting to horrible 
outrages ; kings by turns fiercely brutal or kind and con- 
siderate ; murders and sacrileges, together with passionate 
devotion to the most venerable relics ; a mixture of saints 
and monsters, of whom the former subdue barbaric violence 
into Christian dignity, and the latter surpass in turpitude 
the most corrupted victims of a worn-out despotism. 

The time at which this scandal broke out and troubled all 
Gaul from the Loire southwards was the year 590, the year 
in which, at the farther end of Gaul, arose the most famous 
monastery of Luxeuil, founded by the Celtic missionary St 
Columban, and destined to be for a time the most fruitful 
mother of monasteries, a monastic metropolis of the Frank 
realm ; the year also in which St Gregory the Great, who 
has been called the Father of monks, began his fourteen 
years of suffering and of triumph on the throne of Sc. 

We may sum up as representing in the main the same 
condition of things the whole Merovingian period, from the 
conversion of Clovis in the year 496, to the deposition of 
his last descendant in the year 752, when St. Boniface acted 
on the decision of Pope Zacharias, and sanctioned the elec- 
tion of the great assembly, half lay and half ecclesiastical, 
held at Soissons by consecrating, as Archbishop of Mainz, 
Pepin to be king of the Franks. The mayor of the palace, 
who had possessed the power, entered then into possession 
of the right; the Merovingian race was deposed ; the Carlo- 
vingian was established, and a great revolution was effected 
without effort or resistance. 

What had been the political and social state of France 
during this long period of two hundred and fifty years. 
Even at its conclusion nothing had been solidly founded. 
Franco-Gallic society had not clothed itself in any stable and 
general form : a Frank State did not yet exist, and Gaul 
had no State ; for a State means a certain extent of territory, 
with an established centre, fixed limits, inhabited by men 
who bear a common name and are bound together in a 
common destiny. In the middle of the eighth century no 
such thing existed in what we now call France.^ 


First, as to tlie perpetual shifting of boundaries and change 
of kingdoms. There had been kingdoms of Metz, of Soissons, 
of Orleans, of Paris. These had given place to kingdoms 
of Neustria, of Austrasia, of Burgundy, of Aquitaine, with 
an incessant change of masters, of frontiers, of extent, of 
importance. At length being merged in two, Austrasia and 
Neustria, it even then had no stability or regularity. Pro- 
vinces were interchanged, sovereigns perpetually varied. 
The frontiers themselves were undetermined on the north 
and east, the invading movement of the Teutonic tribes con- 
tinued. Thuringians, Allemans, Bavarians, made incessant 
efforts to cross the Shine and take their share of land occu- 
pied by Franks which the Franks met by attacking these 
tribes on their own side of the Bhine, with the intention of 
reducing them to a subordinate condition, however preca- 
rious and undefinable that might be. With the Prisons and 
the Saxons to the north the Franks had to keep up a per- 
petual conflict, so that on this side the frontiers were abso- 
lutely irregular ; while the Bretons on the side of Armorica 
kept the Neustria territories in the like uncertainty. 

In the south, in Provence and Aquitaine, the old Eoman 
population was trying incessantly to recover its indepen- 
dence. The Franks had conquered, but were not in full 
possession. When their great incursions paused, cities and 
country strove to rise together and shake ofif the yoke. The 
Mohammedan dominion, born in 622, towards the end of 
the seventh century, or at least the beginning of the eighth, 
was inundating the south of Italy and the south of Gaul, 
and almost all Spain, with a vehemence of effort even ex- 
ceeding that of the Teutonic tribes on the Bhine. So north 
and east, west and south, Frank territory was in perpetual 
assault. No doubt, through this great territory the force of 
the Franks prevailed, but without territorial security and 
political unity. There was no one State, ruling by an 
acknowledged right of nations, and commanding its subjects 
to look up to such a right, to trust in it, and to practise it.^ 

The state of things thus described in Gaul began in 
Britain from the time that Stilicho was reduced to the 
necessity of withdrawing the Boman armies and the pro- 

^ Guizot, 1 2th le^on, translated. 


tection of civilised life which the empire conferred. A 
detailed history of the hundred and fifty years preceding 
the mission of St. Augustine from the Ccelian Hill does not 
exist. We may be sure that the terrible sufferings which 
accompanied the Teutonic invasions of Gaul from the middle 
of the fifth century were at least equalled in Britain during 
the Saxon invasions, which parcelled England into seven or 
eight minute kingdoms, if we may dignify with such a name 
the several camping-grounds of pirates who had fleshed them- 
selves with the inhabitants of what had been one province 
of the great empire. That one province was now subjected 
to perpetual subdivisions. Here, as in Gaul, there was no 
longer one State, nor one law, nor security of possession, 
nor sense of one government. Gradually the Britons were 
driven into the western mountain district of their former 
country, and were styled foreigners by the invaders. The 
Teuton called the Briton Welshman, and earned imperish- 
able hatred from those whom he had dispossessed or sub- 
jugated, a hatred which not even Christian charity in 
sub-equent times was able to overcome, for the monks of 
Bangor hated those whom they should have converted. 

The overthrow of Roman rule in Spain by Vandals and 
Sueves would not seem to have differed in character from 
that which took place in Gaul and Britain until the emer- 
gence of a Visigotliic kingdom, which became Catholic in 
the time of St. Gregory, showed the earliest and most com- 
plete union of bishops and nobles in a common government 
by a king with a real and yet a limited authority. In 
Italy, also, during the thirty-three years of Theodoric, from 
493 to 526, there would seem to have been one State, 
in which the great Ostrogoth managed to use the best 
Eoman intellects for the maintenance of the old constitution 
of law and order. But that State perished in the Gothic 
war, and was succeeded by a Lombard invasion and the 
selfish despotism of exarchs representing a Byzantine 
master; so that the two centuries which followed the con- 
quest of Narses to the coronation of Pepin were times of 
exceeding sorrow and desolation for Italy, and the fifty 
years which began with the eighth century saw the Visi- 
gothic kingdom in Spain overflowed by a Mohammedan 


inundation which threatened at once extinction of Roman 
law and Christian civilisation.^ 

Thus in these three centuries, from 480 to 750, the 
political unity of the Eoman empire has perished in a vast 
convulsion through the immense territory, which includes 
Gaul, with its undefined frontiers up to the Baltic, the 
whole Spanish peninsula, and Italy, with its northern 
frontiers to the Danube, and also Britain, from its southern 
sea to the Roman wall protecting it on the north. "At 
the moment when the Roman empire breaks up and dis- 
appears," a great writer, not a Catholic, exclaims, "the 
Christian Church collects herself into a definitive form. 
Political unity perishes, religious unity springs to full 
stature. I know not how many peoples, diverse in origin, 
in manners, in language, in destiny, force themselves upon 
the scene. Everything becomes local and partial; every 
large idea, every general institution, every great social com- 
bination disappears. This is the very moment at which 
the Christian Church proclaims louder than ever the unity 
of her doctrines, the universality of her right. 

" A glorious and powerful fact, which from the fifth to 
the thirteenth century has rendered immense services to 
humanity. The unity of the Church has alone maintained 
some bond between countries and peoples which everything 
else tended to separate. By her influence, some general 
notions, some feelings of a vast sympathy, have continued 
their development And from the bosom of the most fright- 
ful political confusion which the world has ever known has 
sprung an idea of the widest extent and of the greatest 
purity which perhaps has ever gathered men together — the 
idea of a spiritual society, for that is the Church's philo- 
sophical name, the type which she has aimed at realising. 

" A common conviction, that is, the same idea recognised 
and accepted as true, is the fundamental basis, the secret 
bond of human society. We may stop at the most limited, 
the simplest associations, or rise to the widest and most 
complicated. We may examine what passes between three 
or four barbarians joined in a hunting expedition, or in a 

^ These four paragraphs, from **We may sum up,'* drawn from Guizut*t 
I9tb 169011. 


chamber convoked to treat of a great people's affairs. In 
every case it is in the adhesion of individuals to the same 
thought that the fact of association consists. So long as 
they have not understood and agreed together, they are but 
isolated beings side by side, who are not in touch nor hold 
together. The same feeling, the same belief, whatever its 
nature or object, is the first condition of the social state. 
Only in the bosom of the truth, or of wliat they take for 
truth, men are united and society springs up. There is no 
society but between minds, society only subsists on the 
points and within the limits wherein union of minds is 
accomplished. Where minds have nothing in common, 
there is no society. The society of minds is the only 
society, an element necessary, as it were, the basis of all 
outward associations perceived by the senses. 

"Now the essential character of truth, precisely that 
which specially makes the social bond, is unity. Truth is 
one, which is the reason why those who have recognised and 
accepted it are united. This is a union which has nothing 
accidental or arbitrary, for truth does not depend either 
on the accidents of things or on the incertitude of men. 
It has nothing transitory, being eternal ; nothing limited, 
being itself complete and infinite. Unity, then, being the 
essential character of truth, will be the same of the society 
which has only truth for its object — that is, of the society 
which is purely spiritual. There are not, and there cannot 
be, two spiritual societies. It is of its nature unique and 

"Herein is the birth of the Church; herein the unity 
proclaimed by her as her principle, the universality at which 
she has always aimed. This is the idea which, more or less 
evident, more or less rigorously drawn, lies at the bottom of 
all her doctrines, hovers over all her labours. Long before 
the sixth century, from the very cradle of Christianity, it 
appears in the writings and in the acts of her most illus- 
trious interpreters. 

•' At this time the practical consequences already produced 
by that unity of the Church of which we have set forth the 
rational characteristics, were such as these. It shines espe- 
cially in ecclesiastical legislation, and with the more brilliance 


because in contradiction with all which passes otherwise. 
In treating of civil legislation from the fifth to the eighth 
century, a diversity ever more and more increasing seemed 
its most striking feature. But the tendency of the religious 
society is quite different. It aspires to unity in its laws, 
and to unity it attains. Nor does it always draw its laws 
from the primitive monuments of religion in the sacred 
books, always and everywhere the same. As the religion 
grows new needs appear, new laws are required, a new 
legislator. Who shall he be? East has separated from 
West. The West every day parcels itself out in distinct 
and independent states. Will there be plurality of legis- 
lators for a dispersed Church ? Will Gallic, Spanish, Italian 
councils give them religious laws ? No ; above the diver- 
sity of national churches, of national councils, above nil the 
differences of necessity introduced in discipline, worship, 
customs, the whole Church will have a general legislation, 
and that unique. From the fourth to the eighth century 
there were six Ecumenical or General Councils : the first at 
Nicaea in 325 ; the second at Constantinople in 381 ; the 
third at Ephesus in 431 ; the fourth at Chalcedon in 45 i ; 
the fifth at Constantinople in 553; the sixth at Constanti- 
nople in 680. In spite of all causes for misunderstanding 
and separation, in spite of diversity of language, of govern- 
Hient, of manners, and what went much further, in spite of 
the rival position of the Patriarchs in Rome, Alexandria, 
and Constantinople, the legislation of the General Councils 
was everywhere accepted, by the West as well as by the 
East. Scarcely some decrees of the fifth Council were for 
the moment contested, so powerful was the idea of unity 
already in the Church, and to such a degree the spiritual 
bond overmastered all." 

The same writer notes that all these six Councils were 
held in the East under the influence of the Eastern empe- 
rors ; scarcely a few bishops of the West attended them. 
A more detailed notice of them might have shown that in 
the first Council the legates of the Pope, not himself pre- 
sent, but authorising its convocation, assured its being counted 
as ecumenical when the Pope had accepted it, though of the 
318 bishops, scarcely five Western bishops were present. 


In the case of the second, it was not even summoned from 
the West ; it was held by Eastern bishops only, at a moment 
of great peril arising from the long struggle engendered by 
the Arian heresy, and only became ecumenical when Pope 
Damasus accepted its doctrinal decrees, and only so far as 
these decrees, its alterations of discipline never being ac- 
cepted. In the case of the third, presided over by St. Cyril, 
Archbishop of Alexandria, with the authority of the Pope, 
the Eastern bishops expressly welcomed the judgment of 
the Pope, acknowledging the Pope to have been seated up 
to tliat time in the See of Peter. In the fourth, the Eastern 
bishops composing it, and the Eastern emperor supporting 
it, solicited and obtained the confirmation of St. Leo, by 
which only it became ecumenical. In the case of the fiftb| 
held most abnormally by the despotic power of Justinian, 
not convoked by the Pope, and not attended by him nor 
by the Western bishops, it only became general by subse- 
quent acceptance of the Pope. And in the case of the sixth. 
Pope St. Agatho presided over its convocation, and Pope St, 
Leo II. confirmed its decrees, and this alone made it ecume- 
nical, for scarcely any Western bishops save the Papal legates 
attended it. The great predominance as to numbers of the 
Eastern bishops in all these six Councils, and yet the accept- 
ance of the Councils themselves by the West as by the East, 
is one of the strongest proofs offered by history of the power 
exerted from the beginning by the See of St. Peter in the 
government of the Church and the preservation of unity with 
truth. The power thus shown is entirely without a parallel 
in the case of any other bishop, or any other patriarch. 

The beneficent rule of the Eoman empire in making so 
many nations one, giving them a law which they all respected, 
and, with an army so moderate in numbers, keeping peace 
over the vast region guarded on the north by the Danube 
and the Ehine, with their line of military fortresses, and 
reaching on the south to the great deserts of Africa, that 
majestic peace which we find so dwelt upon by different 
writers at the beginning of the fifth century, had thus been 
completely broken up by the succession of Northern in- 
vaders throughout its western half. This overthrow may be 
considered as complete in the time of St. Leo, when Gaul 


and Italy narrowly escaped even a Mongol desolation under 
Attila. When the first Benedictine colony was settled at 
Glanfeuil in 543, nearly a hundred years had passed over 
the country which possessed no State. Many writers have 
dwelt upon the extortions of the impeiial tax-gatherers, and 
on the sufferings everywhere endured by the inhabitants of 
town and country from the incidence of the rates for which 
Eoman citizens were answerable. It has even been supposed 
that the invasion of barbarian tribes was often welcomed 
as preferable to the exactions used to fill the imperial trea- 
sury. But long before the time when Glanfeuil was settled, 
we may be sure that Gaul had felt in all its parts how great 
was the loss of one rule under a settled government. To 
take one particular, the cultivated land had passed into 
forest.^ Merely in the northern part of the country occu- 
pied by the Burgundians to the north of the Eh6ne, there 
were counted at the beginning of the sixth century six great 
deserts — the desert of Eeome, between Tonnerre and Mont- 
bard ; the desert of Morvan, the desert of the Jura, the desert 
of the Vosges, wherein Luxeuil and Lure were soon to lise ; 
the Swiss desert, between Brienne and Lucerne ; lastly, the 
desert of La Gruyere, between the Saone and the Aar. 
Savoy and Switzerland were then scarcely more than a vast 
forest. The primitive cantons, Lucerne, Schwitz, Uri, and 
Unterwald still bear the name of the Forest cantons,^ whose 
impenetrable woods then surrounded their beautiful lake. 
We must then picture to ourselves the whole of Gaul, and 
all tlie neighbouring countries, all actual France, Switzer- 
land, Belgium, the two banks of the Ehine — that is to say, 
the richest and most populous countries of modern Europe 
— covered with such forests as we scarcely see still even 
in America, while not a trace of them remains in the ancient 
world. Imagine these massive woods, dark, impenetrable, 
covering mountain and valley, including both high table- 
lands, and low marshes. They come down to the great 
rivers, or even to the sea, intersected here and there by 
torrents bursting their way through upheaved trunks and 
roots. Thus they make that mixture of mountain and forest 
which the one German word expresses wherein roam wild 

^ See Montaleinbert, iL 372. ^ Die.Waldstatten. 


beasts whose ferocity lia^ not yet crouched before the advance 
of man, and many of whose species have completely disap- 
peared from our country.^ 

Can we in the present day, by any effort of imagination, 
reach the courage of the solitary monk and missionary who, 
without the guardianship of peace or respected right, made 
his way into these forests, erected a precarious shelter of 
branches for the night, besought the divine protection, and 
lay down in his solitude ? Let us cite one of these. The 
noble Imier, returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to 
seek an inaccessible retreat in the mouu tains of his native 
country, hears in the silence of the night the sound of the 
bells of the monastery which shall one day replace his 
hermitage. " Brother," said he to his only companion, " do 
you hear that distant bell which has thrice awakened me ? " 
"I do not," replied his servant; but Imier rose and let 
himself be guided by that mysterious sound through the 
heights and narrow gorges of the valley of the Doubs to 
the fountain springing up before him. There he fixed 
himself, and it has kept his name to this day, when the 
town of St. Imier is the centre of a large watchmaking 
industry in the Bernese Jura. Thus it was that the woods 
which had displaced ancient cities over the broad fields of 
Gaul became in their turn penetrated by monasteries of 
men and women, each sustained by their own life, as 
citadels of Christian culture in the midst of barbarism. 
In numberless cases outside of cities, the parish priest had 
sunk under the unequal battle with an invading horde ; 
but there St Benedict's hemire of wine and measure of 
bread, nourishing a company of valiant hearts, wherein 
Teutonic vigour was joined with Christian charity and 
soldierly courage, won its way, maintained itself in poverty 
at first, and finally restored the wilderness to cultivated 
life. Twenty generations of men in succession, we are told 
by the historian, found their happiness in buildings which 
had thus arisen.^ In the midst of that life which they 

^ Montalembert, ii. 378. 

- Montalembert, i., Introduction, p. Ixxvii. There are names of Benedic- 
tine, Cistercian, Charterhouse, Premonstratensian abbeys in France, Belgium, 
England, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Germany. 


had disregarded, which they had offered in sacrifice to God, 
that God by a permanent miracle of His mercy caused them 
ever to find a joy and a happiness unknown to the rest of 
men. glappiness, the gift so rare, so yearned after in our 
lower world, reigned unbroken in the monasteries faithful 
to their founder's rules, to the law of their existence. It 
is pictured in the very names given by the monks to the 
places of their retreat and their penitence : the " fair place," 
the "good placeT'^e "beautiful placeV' the "joyous place," 
the " dear place," the " dear isle," the " sweet valley," the 
" delight," the " good harbour," the " sweet rest," the " good 
mountain," the "holy valley," the "blessed valley," the 
" valley of peace," the " valley of hope," the " valley of 
grace," the "good valley," the "valley of salvation," the 
" bird's nest," the " sweet fountain," the " way of Heaven," 
the " gate of Heaven," the " crown of Heaven," the " yoke 
of God," "God's portion," "God's peace," "God's bright- 
ness," " God's knowledge," the " field of God," the " place 
of God," the " harbour of sweetness," the " happy meadow," 
the " blessed meadow," the " blessed wood," the " rule," the 
"rest," the "comfort," the "abundance," the "joy." In 
France it would appear that three-eighths of the cities and 
towns owe their existence to the monastic order.^ 

In the year of St. Benedict's death was born the man 
who seemed for a time as if his example would exceed in 
energy, and his rule compete in success. Two generations 
after St Patrick's mission to Ireland arose among his 
children St. Columban. The monastic germ planted by 
Patrick in the land which he converted sprung up with 
prodigious fecundity. We are told that in the three 
following centuries Ireland became like a vast monastery ; 
no valley so secluded, no forest so dense along the Atlantic 
shore, which did not serve for a retreat Concerning one 
man, Luan, St. Bernard records, six centuries after him, 
that he had founded a hundred religious houses. He was 
himself a shepherd, educated by the monks in the vast 
Abbey of Bangor, which, as well as Clonfort, is said to 
have contained 3000 coenobites. This must not be con- 
fused with another great Celtic monastery of the same name, 

^ P. Ixx., as calculated by Longueval, Iliatoire de VEgliic GcUlicane. 


the Welsh Bangor. The Irish Bangor was also a great 
place of education, which in that day of destruction, the 
fifth century, flourished with greatest brightness there. The 
distinguishing mark of the Irish monks at this time was to 
carry their faith everywhere into foreign lands. The in- 
tensity of apostolic zeal kindled by Patrick in Ireland, 
together with a proportionate love of knowledge, can only 
be estimated by the fact of the vast spread of Irish pro- 
pagation during six centuries; while Ireland was sought 
by others to learn religion, they covered the lands and seas 
of the West with their missionaries. Let us pass to the 
action of one in Gaul. 

Columban from his first youth was brought up in liberal 
studies. He learnt Greek as well as Latin ; he was given 
up to grammar, rhetoric, geometry, the study of Holy Scrip- 
ture. His personal beauty was so great, that a recluse 
warned him that if he would escape the seduction under 
which Adam and Samson, David and Solomon had yielded, 
he must fly. He passed accordingly several years under 
the discipline of Abbot Comgall, amid the thousands of 
monks who studied for knowledge and strove for holiness 
at Bangor. 

But he had ever ringing in his ears the word, " Go forth 
out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy 
father*s house, and come into the land which I shall show 
thee." At thirty years of age, in the year 573, he left 
Bangor with twelve other monks, traversed Great Britain, 
and landed in Gaul. He found the country terribly dis- 
turbed by intestine wars, and ecclesiastical discipline much 
interrupted. In the course of his preaching he reached 
Burgundy, where G outran was then reigning, the least 
reprehensible, as it would seem, of the grandsons of Clovis. 
His eloquence enchanted Gontran and the great of his 
court. He would only receive, from the king's earnest 
desire to keep him, an old Roman castle at Annegray, 
where with his companions he practised for years the 
rudest of lives. He carried in the woods his Bible sus- 
pended by a satchel from his shoulder, and was one day 
surrounded by wolves. He remained quiet, only reciting 
" Deus in adjutorium ; " the wolves smelt his raiment and 


passed on, and presently he heard a multitude of voices, 
Teuton brigands of the Sueve tribe, who were then ravag- 
ing the country. He did not see them, but only heard : 
wolves and brigands indicate the two dangers which con- 
tinually surrounded the monks in their pioneering labours 
— from savage nature and more savage men. 

After some years, the number of his disciples increased 
so much that he was constrained to move. Agnoald, one 
of the king's chief ministers, who had married a Bur- 
gundian lady of very high rank, procured for him, from 
the king Gontran, another strong castle named Luxeuil, 
where magnificent baths had been built by the Eomans. 
In the neighbouring forests were still to be seen idols 
which the Gaulish idolaters had worshipped. Here Colum- 
ban planted what became the great monastic metropolis of 
Austrasia and Burgundy. 

The spot was between these two kingdoms. The whole 
country on the side of the Vosges mountains and the Jura, 
150 miles in length, and in breadth from 25 to 35, then 
consisted of parallel chains of inaccessible defiles, separated 
by impenetrable forests, which were clothed with huge 
pines descending from the loftiest heights to the rapid 
waters of three rivers. Barbarian invasions from the time 
of Attila had destroyed the Soman cities, and done away 
with husbandry and population. It was reserved for the 
disciples of Columban and Benedict to reduce the forests 
to cultivation, and change the wild beasts into peasants. 

Before long the Irish colonist was encompassed with 
Frank and Burgundian nobles, who brought him their sons 
to educate. They deposited their gifts, and even requested 
him at times to shear the long locks of their children, the 
mark of their nobility, and admit them into the ranks of 
his army. Labour and prayer had won upon them, and so 
great was the crowd of poor serfs and of rich lords, that 
Columban was able to institute that perpetual office called 
the "Laus pereunis," which was already heard in the 
monastery of St. Maurice, on the other side the Jura. But 
the sound of perpetual praise, maintained by one detach- 
ment of monks after another, was intermixed with incessant 
labours of tilling, harvesting, felling trees, and cleaving 


wood. An article of his rule prescribed that the monk 
should go to bed so weary that he fell asleep in going, 
while he was to wake before he had slept out his sleep. 
Such is the labour out of which Europe sprung. 

After twenty years thus spent, wherein his example 
spread wide, while his rigid adherence to certain Irish 
practices, and a temper of no little resolution, met with 
much opposition, an end came which brought out the char* 
acteristic boldness of the missionary. Gontran had died, 
and likewise his nephew Childebert II., son of the famous 
Queen Brunehaut. Her two young grandchildren Theo- 
dibert IL and Thierry 11. reigned, the former over Austrasia, 
the latter over Burgundy, while the grandmother Brunehaut 
administered both their kingdoms. But the nobles suc^ 
ceeded in expelling her from Austrasia : she ruled her 
grandson Thierry II. and his nobles in Burgundy. It is 
said that Brunehaut in her old age encouraged her grandson 
to live an illicit life, rather than she would see a lawful 
queen who might limit her own authority. Ck)lumbau had 
often rebuked the king for his disorders, and often received 
his promise of amendment. He had come to visit the 
Queen Brunehaut at the manor of Bourcheresse.^ She 
presented to him the four sons whom Thierry had had by 
his concubines. "What do these children want of me?** 
said the monk. "They are the king's sons," said the queen; 
" give them thy blessing." Columban replied, " No ; they 
shall not reign: they come out of a bad place." From 
that moment Brunehaut made him a mortal quarrel. First 
she forbade the monks to go out of any monasteries 
governed by Columban, or any one to receive them or 
give them any succour. Columban tried to recover Thierry, 
and went to visit him at a royal villa. The king heard 
that he was at the door, but refused to enter. He had 
a sumptuous repast provided for him, which Columban 
refused to accept from one who forbade the servants of 
God to approach the houses of others. Under his male- 
diction the dishes burst asunder. Tiie king started at this 
prodigy, and his grandmother came to beg his pardon, and 
promised correction. Columban was appeased, and returned 

^ Jonas, Vita, 32. 


to iis monastery, where he soon learnt that Thierry had 
fallen back into his old evil practices. Thereupon he wrote 
the king a letter of vehement reproaches, and threatened 
liim with excommunication. 

Thierry, urged on by Brunehaut, presented himself at 
Luxeuil, and demanded of Columban why he disregarded 
the usage of the country, why he prevented visits being 
made inside the monastery, and that even by women ; for 
it was one of Brunehaut's grievances that she, queen as she 
was, could not pass the threshold. The king got himself as 
far as the refectory, requiring that Columban must either 
admit every one everywhere, or forfeit every royal gift. 
Columban replied, " If you attempt to break what has 
hitherto been bound by regular discipline, be assured I 
will neither take your gifts, nor be supported by you in 
anything, and if you have come to this place in order to 
destroy the common dwelling of God's servants, and put 
a stain upon regular discipline, know that your kingdom 
will be soon utterly ruined, together with the whole royal 
race." The king retreated in alarm, and was afterwards 
pressed by strong reproaches. He retorted saying, "You 
thmk that I shall give you the crown of martyrdom. I 
am not so foolish as to commit the crime; but you had 
better take other advice, and if you will have notldng to 
do with secular intercourse, depart by the way by which 
you came." The courtiers then exclaimed together, " We 
will have none here who do not associate with all." Colum- 
ban said that he would not leave his monastery unless he 
were taken away by force. 

In the end he was carried away first to Besan^on, and 
then across France to Nantes. He was placed on board a 
vessel to return to Ireland, but it was driven back by stormy 
weather, and Columban returned by way of Paris, and re-r 
ceived a kind reception of the King Clothaire, who sent him 
on to Theodebert, king of Austrasia. That king offered him 
the most pleasant sites to settle on, but allowed him free 
choice. His choice was the conversion of uobelievers, which 
led him to Bregenz, where dwelt at the time idolatrous Sueves 
and Alamans. But this was not to be the end of his course. 
In three years his two enemies Thcodobert and Thierry 



had yielded up their kingdoms to Clothaire II. Branehaat 
had been put to death with great cruelty and ignominy, 
tied to the tails of wild horses. Columban crossed the Alps 
with a single companion, was received by the Lombard king, 
Agilulf, and given a choice spot in the mountains, on which 
he set up the great monastery of Bobbio, near the banks of 
the Trebbia, where Hannibal had won a great victory. Here 
Columban in his old age constructed a citadel of orthodoxy 
against the Arians, kindling a home of learning which for 
a long time was the light of Northern Italy, In a palimp- 
sest manuscript of the library belonging to this monastery, 
Cardinal Mai in our days recovered a great part of Cicero's 
lost book on the Commonwealth, the parchment of which still 
bears the inscription, " Book of St. Columban of Bobbie/' 

In the last year of his life, the year 615, in which he 
founded Bobbio, he wrote at the request of the Lombard 
king, Agilulf, and his queen, the illustrious Theodelinda, a 
letter to Pope Boniface IV. Amid several pages of strag- 
gling and incoherent matter, there is yet a distinct recogni- 
tion of the Pope's singular rank.^ He addresses him in the 
title as the most dear Pope, the exalted prelate, the pastor of 
pastors. " We," he says, " are bound to the chair of St. Peter, 
for though Eome is great and widely known, it is only 
through that chair that it is for us great and renowned. It 
is since God and the Son of God condescended to be here, 
and by those two most fervid coursers of God's Spirit, the 
Apostles Peter and Paul, whose dear pledges are your feli- 
city, has siirred many waters, and multiplied His chariots 
among innumerable peoples, the supreme Charioteer, who 
is Christ, the true Father, who moves Israel, has come even 
to us. From that time you are great and illustrious, and 
Eome her self more noble and brilliant, and if it may be 
said, on account of the two Apostles of Christ, you are 
well-nigh heavenly, and Eome is the head of the Churches 
of the whole world, reserving the singular prerogative of 
the spot of the Lord's resurrection." 

Clothaire II. having become sole king of Austrasia and 
Burgundy as well as Neustria, taking the kingdoms of the 

^ See Gallandi, vol. xiL p. 351-355 for the whole letter. The section quoted 
is X. p. 354. 


former persecutors of Columban, sent Eustasius, who had 
become Abbot of Luxeuil, to bring Columban back, but he 
utterly refused to leave his new-founded Bobbio, and died 
there in a wild cavern adjoiuing, which he had made a 
chapel of the Blessed Virgin. It was long frequented by- 
sufferers, and three centuries after his time the annals of 
the monastery recorded that those who entered it sorrowing 
left it rejoiced and consoled by the peace of mind which its 
two patrons had obtained for them. 

The second successor of Columban as Abbot of Bobbio, 
Bertulfe, a noble Austrasian and near relative of Arnoul, 
Bishop of Metz, first known progenitor of the Carlovingiau 
race, had to struggle with the Bishop of Tortona, who sought 
to reduce the abbey under his jurisdiction, by the help of 
Ariowald, then king of the Lombards. Bertulfe betook him- 
self to Pope Honorius and made known his rule, for which 
he obtained the Pope's approbation, and came back with a 
privilege which exempted from all episcopal jurisdiction the 
monastery in which Columban had finished his career. 

The great Irish missionary, in the pre-eminence of his 
dauntless courage, shrunk, where need was, from no contest 
with the Merovingian centaurs who ruled divided Gaul. 
They could indeed be munificent patrons, sometimes even 
Christian, so far as the waist, while from the waist down- 
wards they were monsters. Upon their land Columban 
planted Luxeuil, from which many other monasteries were 
drawn in successive swarms. He carried to them the rule 
under which he had lived himself at Bangor, the rule which 
St. Patrick had everywhere spread in Ireland, more severe 
and peremptory than that which St. Benedict had sent to 
Glanfeuil. One of Columban's disciples, Sigisbert, had fol- 
lowed him on his way across the Alps, but leaving him at 
the St. Gothard, betook himself to the source of the Khine, 
and there built himself a cell with branches. The few 
people round were still idolaters ; they reverenced him and 
listened to him, but when he sought to make them cut 
down their sacred oak, one of the pagans lifted his axe 
against him. A sign of the cross disarmed him. A long 
struggle of conversion ensued, but he was helped by a neigh- 
bouring lord^ who became a Christian on the word of the 


Irish missionary, and then a monk, and dowered the rising 
monastery with all his goods. It still exists under the 
name of Dissentis ; and so the Rhine, whose waters were 
to wash the walls of so many monasteries, was blessed at 
its birth. 

Another disciple, St. Gall, upon the Lake of Constance, in 
the midst of rocks and thorns, hung the reliques which he 
wore round his neck on a. wooden cross, which he made of a 
branch, and passed the night in prayer. This too was the 
beginning of a monastery famous in after time, which helped 
to convert the people of the Alamans into a Christian pro* 
vince, and was a chief centre of intellectual life in the 
German world. 

But it was at Luxeuil,^ from which King Thierry and 
Queen Brunehaut had expelled by force Columban, that his 
work was carried on most successfully. It became the 
centre of monastic colonisation in Frankish Gaul dnring 
all the seventh century. Its second abbot was Eustasius, 
sprung from a noble Burgundian family, who had borne 
arms before he became a monk at Luxeuil. Eustasius had 
followed Columban to Bregenz; he then returned to 
Luxeuil, and Clotaire 11. had sent him to induce Columban 
to return to the government of his old monastery. This he 
failed to do, but governed the monastery himself during ten 
years ; he enjoyed the support of the Frankish nobility, as 
well as the favour of the king, Clotaire, and it became under 
him the recognised monastic capital of all the Frank 
dominion. It restored the discipline of other drooping 
monasteries, becoming a nursery-ground of bishops and 
abbots, of preachers and reformers, especially for the two 
kingdoms of Austrasia and Burgundy. The flourishing 
school which Columban had created, and which he had in-^ 
trusted to Eustasius, helped on this result. The clergy and 
the monks from other monasteries, and the children of the 
noblest Frank and Burgundian familie?, frequented it. The 
most famous cities of Gaul, Lyons, Autun, Langres, Stras- 
bourg, sent their lay children to it. From the banks of the 
Lake of Geneva to the coasts of the Northern Sea, every, 
year saw some monastery founded and peopled by the sons 

^ Drawn from Mod talembert, ii. pp. 539-554. 


of Luxeuil. Episcopal cities sought for rulers in the men 
trained there to the government of souls. 

The successor of Eustasius was Walbert, a pupil likewise 
and companion of Columban. Of Sicambrian race, a noble 
and very wealthy family, he had obtained a great name as 
a soldier. But the attraction of the cloister overmastered 
the warlike spirit of the Frank. He came to Luxeuil, and 
brought it in donation, not his vast domains only, but the 
military habits which he did not quit in the monastery. 
He suspended to the vault of the church the arms in which 
he had won renown. Three hundred years after his time 
they are mentioned as being still there. He was living by 
himself in a hollow rock near a spring, three miles from 
the abbey, when the monks came to bring him home as 
their third abbot. He governed them well and happily 
during forty years, a.d. 625-665. His name has remained 
in the adjoining country the most popular of those who 
governed the great Sequanese abbey. He maintained disci- 
pline and great study, and increased the domains of the 
commimity, first by his own great donations, and then by 
those which the renown of his house drew from all parts. 

Not only was temporal independence thus secured, but a 
sort of spiritual independence was likewise sought The 
great monasteries tried to gain this from provincial councils 
or from popes. Their effort was to be sheltered by a solemn 
privilege from the abuse of authority and the vexations 
which the diocesan bishop, under cover of his spiritual 
jurisdiction, might inflict upon them. He might impose 
his presence on them with a great surrounding, or make 
them pay exorbitantly for holy oils and ordination of the 
brethren, or especially lie might hamper the liberty of their 
internal elections. Lerins had obtained this privilege from 
the Council of Aries in 45 1 ; St. Maurice from the Council 
of Chalons in 579. As Pope Honorius had given it to the 
Abbey of Bobbio, so his next successor, John IV., gave it 
under the abbacy of Walbert, and at the request of Clovis IL, 
then a minor, to Luxeuil. 

Six hundred monks made under Walbert's crosier the 
permanent garrison of this monastic citadel. Missionaries, 
single or in bands, went thence perpetually to found new 


religious colonies. Under him more than under his pre- 
decessors the fertility of Luxeuil became prodigious. An 
old Life of the Abbess of Salaberga^ of the seventh century 
says, *' In his time troops of monks and swarms of sacred 
virgins began to spring up through the provinces of Gaul, 
not only in fields, villages, and castles, but through the 
waste places of the desert, from the rule of Benedict and 
Columban, whereas before that time but few had been found 
in those regions." 

The forty years during which Walbert was abbot mark 
exactly the rise of Mohammed's attack upon Christian life. 
The Saracenic rule was the exact contradictory of the 
monastic discipline; wherever Saracen armies came, they 
had a special instruction to destroy the monk ; and instead 
of the nun, their mission was to convert the life which had 
its beginning at Nazareth into the foulness of the conqueror's 
harem, as devised and executed in Mohammed's own life. 
The outburst of the monastic institute in the first half of the 
seventh century, as noted in the mediaeval Life just quoted, 
is therefore a fact of the utmost relevance. What had 
been in past times, as it were, a specimen of rare devotion, 
became by its multiplication the opening of a new epoch in 
Christian history. We have recorded for us numberless 
examples of the noblest men and women, often of Gallo- 
Roman, but specially of Teutonic race, bestowing first their 
own persons on the hardest and most self-denying of lives, 
and then adding the endowment of large landed properties 
to the monastery, which had become a Christian citadel in 
the wilderness produced originally by the conquest of the 
Northern invaders. The completeness of the conquest had 
alone made possible the greatness of the reparation. Whence 
did Walbert, the noble Sicambrian, obtain possession of the 
vast lauds with which he dowered Luxeuil ? If there had 
not been seven deserts in that Burgundy, there would not 
have been the means to turn cells made in the caverns of 
rocks, or formed of branches crossed together from the over- 
hanging woods, into stately dwellings, where hundreds of 
monks never ceased to echo the Iaiics percnnis: the nuns 
of such places as Remiremont could not have existed. A 

^ MabilloD, ii. p. 407, Vita Sanctse Salabergs, 


disciple of St. Patrick could not have stirred a whole country 
with his heroic example, nor foiled the ambition of such a 
queen as Brunehaut, nor rebuked the Merovingian impuri- 
ties which defiled the land. 

For the unsettled political state of Gaul enhances the 
effect of the monastic multiplication. The historian of 
civilisation is careful to urge upon his pupils of the nine- 
teeth century that during all this period of 250 years Gaul 
possessed no State, but only rival competitors of the long- 
haired race of Clovis, who partitioned the great Gaul of 
lloman times into ever-changing districts, liable to endless 
convulsions. Such cities as remained still had bishops, who 
defended them as well as the remains of their old authority 
still subsisting allowed ; but what portion of their dioceses 
outside of the city still enjoyed Christian government we 
know not. We know only enough to see that a solitary 
priest, in an open unguarded mission, had but a small chance 
of carrying on his priestly functions, and that a monastery, 
founded in strict poverty, and in its completeness containing 
men who were willing to carry their life in their hands, and 
divided the days into hours of worship and hours of manual 
labour, the praise of God being in both the work aimed at, 
were able to carry the Christian faith through every part of 
the great country which had yet no State, and was subject 
to the most arbitrary interruptions on all sides. 

Among the progeny of Luxeuil we find close to it a great 
foundation due to one of the Irish monks, a companion to 
him who, four hundred years after his death, was still called 
the " king of monks, and the driver of God's chariot" When 
he was expelled from Luxeuil, only Irish religious were 
allowed* to follow him. One of these, advanced in age, is 
supposed to have been a brother of St. Gall. His Celtic 
name has been hidden under its Latin translation, Deicola, 
shortened into Desle. When he reached with Columban, 
on his way to Besan<jon, a spot full of briers, he felt his 
strength fail. He threw himself at the feet of Lis abbot, 
and begged his blessing to finish his pilgrimage on the spot. 
Then looking about in the forest for a place of retreat, he 
met a herd of swine, whose herdsman was startled at the 
sight of a tall stranger in an unknown costume. "Who» 


are 3'ou ? *' he asked ; " whence do you come, and what are 
you seeking ? What are you doing in this savage spot 
without guide or companion ? " " Be not alarmed, brother," 
said the old Irishman ; " I am a traveller and a monk. I 
beg you, for cliarity, to show me some place here where a 
man can dwell/' Tlie swineherd replied that he only knew 
in that neighbourhood one spot, marshy enough, but habit- 
able from the abundance of water, and belonging to a 
powerful vassal named Werfaire. But he refused to conduct 
the stranger thither, lest his herd in the meantime should 
stray. Desle ins'sted, saying, " If you will do me this little 
service, I answer for it that you sliall not lose the least of 
your pigs. My staff will take your place, and serve for 
herdsman in your absence." He stuck thereupon his staff 
in the soil, which all the pigs gathered round. So the two 
went through the woods together — the Irish monk and the 
Burgundian swineherd. Thus the situation of the actual 
city of Lure was discovered, and of its celebrated monastery, 
whose abbot, eleven hundred years after this, was still one 
of the princes of the Holy Roman Empire, 

But Desle was not at the end of his difficulties. ITear 
his new retreat was a small church frequented by shepherds 
and peasants, and served by a secular priest, who by no 
means liked the arrival near him of a disciple of Columban. 
"That monk," he said, "will prevent me making my liveli- 
hood." And he tolJ his flock that the stranger was a 
magician, hiding himself in the woods to follow his incanta- 
tions. " He comes at midnight on pretence of praying in 
my chapel. It is useless my shutting the doors. He can 
open them with a word." And then he denounced him 
to the local lord, Werfaire, asking him if he thought fit 
to allow a certain strange monk to take possession of his 
chapel, so that no one could turn him out. To which 
Werfaire made the brutal reply of ordering his people to 
seize Desle if they could and mutilate him. But before 
they could do this a mortal malady, of the nature which he 
had wished to inflict, took away his life. His widow, in 
the hope of winning the divine justice on behalf of her 
husband's soul, made a donation to him who was called 
Christ's traveller of all the territory surrounding the site 


of Lure. Soon many disciples came to seek with him a 
life of peace and prayer. One day their solitude was broken 
by King Clotaire II., whose name constantly recurs in the 
history of Columban and his disciples. As he came to 
hunt in a royal domain near Lure, a wild boar, which th6 
lords in his train were pursuing, came for refuge to Deicola's 
own cell. The saint laid his hand upon him, saying, '* You 
have come asking for charity, and you shall save your life." 
The king, informed by the huntsmen, who had followed the 
beast's track, came himself to see the wonder. When he 
found the old recluse was a disciple of the Columban whom 
he had always honoured and protected, he inquired affec- 
tionately after the means of subsistence which the abbot 
and his comrades could find in that solitude. '^ It is 
written," replied the Irishman, " that those who fear God 
want nothing. We lead a poor life, but it is sufficient 
for us with the fear of God.*' Clotaire bestowed on the 
new community all the forests, pastures, fisheries which 
the royal treasury possessed in the neighbourhood of Lure; 
From that moment it became and remained one of most 
richly endowed monasteries in Christendom.^ 

Another of Columban's companions, probably Irish, since 
he was one of those who left Luxeuil with him, founded a 
small monastery in the neighbourhood, which was after- 
wards conducted by a young inhabitant of Treves, of very 
noble birth, named Germain. . At seventeen years of age, 
in spite both of king and bishop, he had left everything 
to fiy into solitude. He was one of that number wlio, in 
coming to Luxeuil, had alarmed Abbot Walbert. After- 
wards the abbot sent him into a rich well-watered valley, 
part of the gift of the Alsatian Duke Goudoin. The valley 
was shut in by a defile, which Germain had to find the 
means of opening. Walbert, with' the consent of his 
brethren, had released from their obedience to him all the 
monks whom he put under Germain's authority to found 
this house of Moustier-Grandval. A new Alsatian duke, 
Adalrie, chose to treat them as rebels. He led against 


^ See the mediaeval Life of St. Deioola, by an anonymous monk in the tenth 
century, given by Mabillon in the second volume of his Acta, pp. 95-991 which 
I have drawn from Montalembert*8 compressed mention of it, vol. ii. 556-56(X 


tliem a company of Alamans, ready for fighting and pillage. 
Germain i when he saw the cottages round burning, and 
their inhabitants slaughtered, broke out into reproaches. 
As Germain returned to Grandval he met other soldiers, 
whom he attempted to stop. They turned upon him, 
stripped and slew him. The martyr's body was taken to 
the church which he had built at St. Ursanne, and thus 
arose another saint, who, without passing through Luxeuil, 
had felt the ascendancy of Columban's genius. 

Vandregisile was bom near Verdun, of rich and noble 
parents, connected with two Mayors of the Palace, Erchinoald 
and Pepin of Sandens, one of whom governed Neustria and 
the other Austrasia, under King Dagobert I., son and suc- 
cessor of Clotaire II., who had so favoured Columban and 
his disciples. Thus he became Count of the Palace — that 
is, judge of causes brought before the king, and at the bead 
of the royal revenues. But the great examples furnished 
by the Frank noblesse had raised his heart above the desire 
of power and the sway of ambition. He renounced a 
marriage arranged by relatives and took refuge with a 
solitary on the banks of the Meuse. Now the Merovingian 
kings had already imposed on all Frank nobles a prohi- 
bition to take the clerical or monastic habit without their 
leave. This was grounded on the obligation of military 
service to the prince, which was the soul of social organisa- 
tion among Teutonic peoples. Dagobert, therefore, looked 
with very evil eye upon a Frank brought up in the royal 
court and holding a public charge, who thus withdrew him- 
self without sovereign permission from the duties of his 
rank. He sent Vandregisile an order to return. As, much 
against his will, he was entering the palace, he saw a poor 
man whose cart had turned over in the mud before the 
very gate of the king. All the passers-by left him there, 
and some even trod on him. The Count of the Palace dis- 
mounted, held his hand out to the poor labourer, and the 
two tofjether righted the cart. He then went in to Dac:o- 
bert, amid shouts of derision, his clothes soiled with mud. 
But in the king's eyes they shone with the fire of charity. 
He was touched with that humble devotion, allowed him to 
follow his vocation, and forbade any one to interfere with him. 


Vandregisile,^ delivered from this anxiety, took refuge 
at the tomb of St. Ursanne, which was situated on one of 
his domains. He set himself to subdue the flesh by great 
austerities ; to struggle against the temptations of youth by 
plunging during the winter in the snow, or in the frozen 
waters of the Doubs, while he chanted psalms. There, 
too, he was to catch traces of the teaching and the example 
of Columban. So he was led from the sides of the Jura 
across the Alps to Bobbio. There he admired the fervour 
of those whom the great Irish missionary had left behind 
him. There, too, no doubt, he was so struck with the 
remembrance and rule of Columban, that he determined to 
go to Ireland to seek in the country of the founder of 
Bobbio and Luxeuil the secret of the penitential life and 
the narrow way. But on the way he passed through Rouen, 
then the See of a celebrated bishop, Ouen, who had known 
him at Dagobert's court, and had been himself touched by 
Columban's example. The metropolitan of Eouen would 
not lose a man marked out doubly by approved virtue and 
high birth. The Abbot of Luxeuil, in seeking a superior 
for his colony, had long to search for a monk at once 
learned, holy, and noble. We see that birth was esteemed 
a quality most precious for the founders of religious in- 
stitutions at that time, doubtless because it gave support to 
the chiefs of communities to maintain them even materially 
against the usurpations and violences of the lords whose 
possessions surrounded the new monasteries. Thus Arch- 
bishop Ouen constrained his old friend and companion td 
receive sacred orders, but without being able to prevent him 
from a further search after monastic life. But he succeeded 
in fixing him to his own diocese through the munificence 
of the Mayor of the Palace, Erchinoald, who bestowed on 
his cousin a great domain not far from the Seine. It was 
not under cultivation, and among the rocks and briars were 
seen the ruins of an old city utterly destroyed at the 
Frank invasion. 

On this desert spot Vandregisile constructed the Abbey 
of Fontenelle, which, under his own name of St. Vandrille, 

^ See the Life in Mabillon, vol. ii. pp. 503-511, by an anonymous monk 
of the same time. 


was to liold so important a place in the history of Nor- 
mandy and of France. The holy Queen Bathilde, her son 
King Clovis II., aud many noble Neustrians, added * rich 
donations to that of Erchinoald, whilst others in great 
number came to lead the coenobitic life under his authority; 
Ue had to build four churches in the midst of their, cells 
to meet the needs of their devotion. He was specially 
careful in the observance of his rule to impose on them, 
together with the exercise of manual labour, an absolute 
renouncement of private property. That is precisely the 
point which would offer the hardest rub to the feelings of 
the rich and warlike. The writer of the Life remarks how 
admirable it was to teach those the art of sacrificing their 
own goods who had been accustomed to seize the goods of 
others. By their art he planted on a neighbouring slope 
in a good aspect the first vine known in Normandy. 

Fontenelle was situated in the country of Caux, the whole 
of which was then only in name Christian ; its inhabitants 
had fallen back into a complete and brutal barbarism. The 
abbot preached through the whole country, with such effect, 
that the people no longer met a priest or a monk without 
prostrating themselves before him as an image of Christ. 
When he died, Vandregisile left three hundred monks in 
his monastery, and a memory so popular that, four hundred 
years after it, Latin hymns were translated into the vulgar 
tongue. Fontenelle, close to Caudebec, became, with 
Jumifeges, one of the greatest ornaments of the banks of 
the Seine. Travellers were long shown the rude seats on 
which the founder, with his two friends, the Archbishop 
Ouen and Philibert, the founder of Jumifeges, united their 
counsels for the triumph of justice and peace in France. 
The glorious church of the thirteenth century lasted till it 
was destroyed in the fury of the anti-Christian revolution. 
Of its splendour very little remains, but the ruined towers 
of Jumifeges still bear witness to the magnificence of that 
other abbey, the fairest ornament of that part of Neustria, 
connected also by its founder with the work and lineage of 
Columban. Philibert also had been recommended by his 
father to King Dagobert, and at twenty years had quitted the 
court and military life for the life of the cloister. He had 


been monk and then abbot at the monastery of Bebais, an 
immediate daughter of Luxeuil; had made his pilgrimage to 
Bobbio and the other communities which followed the Irish 
rule, and had been a friend in youth of Archbishop Ouen. 

Philibert often visited his neighbour Vandregisile, and 
with his monks laboured like him in clearing the lands 
granted to him by Queen Bathilde and Clovis II. They 
made out of them meadows of marvellous fertility, and had 
to brave the enmity of the royal foresters, who stole their 
horses. Jumi^ges, like Fontenelle, had been built on the 
site of an ancient Gallo-Boman castle, which was to be re- 
placed by what those of that age called " the noble castle of 
God." Being on the very edge of the Seine, in a peninsula 
formed by the windings of the stream, Philibert's abbey 
was more accessible by water, and became speedily the 
centre of a great trade. Breton and Irish sailors touched 
there, who brought the monks stuff for their clothing in 
exchange for their wheat and cattle. The monks also 
equipped vessels, in which they went to ransom captives 
and slaves from a distance. 

Some of these captives no doubt contributed to swell the 
number of monks at Jumi^ges, which rose to nine hundred, 
without counting the fifteen hundred servants who filled 
there the office of lay-brothers. It followed a rule composed 
by Philibert, after carefully considering the numerous 
monasteries of France, Italy, and Burgundy, which he had 
visited for this purpose. This rule was followed by the 
greater part of the communities which were then formed in 
Neustria, to whom Jumifeges was a fostering power to which 
abbots and monks came to be formed or refreshed. Phili- 
bert had combined the teaching of the Eastern Fathers, such 
as St. Basil and St. Macarius, with the precepts of the two 
chief Western, St. Benedict and St. Columban. But Colum- 
ban's influence would naturally be the greatest, on account 
of Philibert's earliest monastic education, and his long stay 
at Luxeuil and Bobbio. In his magnificent church, which 
astonished his contemporaries, he had raised an altar to 
Columban alone, of all the saints whose rules he had studied 
and practised.^ 

^ S«e the authorities quoted by Muntalembert, ii. 584. 



** From Canterbury's towers, 
' Rome of the North ' long named, from them alone 
Above sea-surge still rose that vestal fire, 
By tempest fanned, not quenched ; and at her breast 
For centuries six were nursed that Coelian race, 
The Benedictine Primates of the land." 

AuBBKT i)K Verb— TTie Penance of St, Laurence, p. 64. 

What is that vita communis, the advance of which by a 
divine impulse from the deserts of Egypt over all the pro- 
vinces of the Roman empire I have attempted in the four 
preceding chapters to trace ? What is it which moved the 
greatest of confessors and champions of the faith to deli- 
neate its first patriarch at length, and commend his life 
for a pattern to the monks of the West ? What is it which 
stirred with one voice St. Basil and his companion SU 
Gregory, St Ambrose, St Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Martin, 
St. Gregory the Great, to praise it, and not merely in words, 
but in that highest praise, the imitation of their lives ? 
What is it which St. Benedict sent with the dearest of his 
disciples to prosper on the banks of the Loire, in the middle 
of the sixth century, endowing it with the measure of bread 
and wine which his long experience had found sufficient for 
the material sustenance of the life established by him at 
Monte Cassino. 

Perhaps a comparison with another great work of the 
Church will illustrate what it is. The basis of human 
society had been laid by establishing, on the express 
authority of Christ, marriage as one and indissoluble. The 
original marriage, as founded by God Himself in Adam 
and Eve, had been touched by the Passion of Christ, and 
made an image of His espousal of human nature, and so 
created a sacrament. The Church had made the civil 


Koman law give up its divorce. The practice of fornica- 
tion, which had polluted to the utmost Greek and Roman 
and heathen society, had been stamped with reprobation. 
No conquest of the Christian faith over the heathen mind 
had cost the Church more persevering efiforts than this esta- 
blishment of Christian marriage, this purification of married 

Tiie Church had thus efifected the sanctity of the Christian 
home. In the vita communis another home was created, of 
altogetlier supernatural character. Another father appeared, 
the head of the house, whose members were not connected 
by any natural relationship. This father, in the name and 
with the character of Christ, was to rule a community which 
rested on three things, each of them a great sacrifice of the 
natural man. This home, instead of being founded on mar- 
riage, was to profess in each of its members the unmarried 
life of virginity or continence ; instead of the possession of 
property, which the whole world seeks after as the condition 
of its progress, was to profess an absolute renouncement of 
all property in the individual. And thirdly, instead of that 
exercise of the will which is the crown of natural life, was 
to add the continual sacrifice of private will to the rule of 
the father, who was the mainspring of the house so founded. 
Such a house, then, contradicted by its very existence the 
three strongest motive powers of the natural man. The 
first sacrifice, that of the unmarried life, alone made it 
possible to carry out the second, the surrender of individual 
property ; and again, both of these exercised together alone 
made it possible to exercise that surrender of the individual 
will in which monastic obedience consisted. 

On what spiritual resources did a life rest the essential 
basis of which consists in a total defiance of the principles 
whereon the ordinary life of man rests ? The prologue of 
St. Benedict's rule gives this answer to the question : " We 
are about to establish a school of the Lord's service, in the 
setting forth of which we hope to order nothing that is 
harsh or rigorous. But if anything be somewhat strictly 
laid down, according to the dictates of sound reason, for the 
amendment of vices or the preservation of charity, do not 
therefore fly in dismay from the way of salvation, whose 

17^ MONASTIC 1.1 FE 

beginning cannot but be strait and difficult But as we go 
forward in our life and in faith, we shall with hearts en- 
larged and unspeakable sweetness of love run the way of 
God's commandments ; so that never departing from His 
guidance, but persevering in His teaching in the monasteiy 
until death, we may by patience share in the sufferings 
of Christ, that we may deserve to be partakers of His 
kingdom." ^ 

St. Benedict calls his institution a " school of the Lord's 
service." Bossuet calls his rule " a summing up of Cliris-^ 
tianity ; a learned and mysterious abridgment of the whole 
doctrine of the Gospel, of all the institutions of the Fathers^ 
of all the councils of perfection." As an explanation of 
praise so ample and so emphatic by one who weighs his 
words and speaks with all the authority of vast learning 
and acknowledged genius, we may remark that the triple 
sacrifice which belongs to the monastic life in all the various 
Orders in which it has been exercised is in fact the con- 
struction of a life which realises the eight beatitudes. To 
acknowledge these in words is much ; but every religious 
house which actually lived under St. Benedict's rule acknow- 
ledged them in fact, subsisted by realising them. This and 
no less is the life of which St. Athanasius described the 
patriarch ; of which St. Basil and St. Augustine witnessed 
the execution ; for which St. Benedict, the Boman noble- 
man, in the last decade of the fifth century, at a moment 
when civil life seemed all failing, tied from his city to the 
Samnite mountains, and there in solitude drew round hini 
his twelve monasteries. 

The establishment of such a life in a living monastery 
we point to as the creation of a supernatural home equal 
in importance for the spiritual life to tlie establishment 
of Christian marriage for society in general. Specimens of 
such a life had already been given during more than two 
hundred years from the time of St. Antony in many countries 
of the East and West. It had exercised the most admirable 
Chiistian minds. We must now speak of its more extended 
development in regions which liad largely lost the benefit of 

^ Prologue of the Rule, translated by a monk of St. Benedict*8 Abbey, Fort 
Augustus, p. II. 


fixed civil government, and of the attainment of one rule, 
which had hitherto been wanting, and had been found the 
most difficult of attainment in the many countries wherein 
specimens of the life itself had been shown. The setting 
up of such a house by St. Maurus in one of those deserts 
which the overthrow of civilised life by the Teutonic inva- 
sion had produced in France did not in itself differ in 
character from the many instances in the same country of 
which mention has already been made. Like them, it con« 
sisted in an imitation of the life of Christ, not by separate 
individuals, but in a house which was ruled by one idea, 
under the government of a father, in which each one contri- 
buted his own defined work as member of a body. This 
was in itself the instrument more potent for the propagation 
of the faith than any which had been found before its 
institution. This is that which I have likened to the 
institution of Christian marriage. The special work of St. 
Benedict was that from the experience of his own life at 
Subiaco and at Monte Cassino he had drawn out a rule of 
such practical wisdom, carrying out to perfection the idea 
of such a house, yet not too severe for human weakness, 
and that this rule was embraced by a vast number of 
monasteries. The very houses formed by the great Irish 
missionary Columban modified the rule after which he had 
built t/iem by amalgamation, first with the rule of St. Bene- 
dict, and in no long time by its full reception. It was the 
instrument predestined by Providence for overcoming bar- 
barism, for spreading the faith, and for creating, instead of a 
society which had been dissolved in moral corruption, a 
society more deeply christianised than that which had been 
reached in Constantine's empire. This is the significance 
of the vita communis. Tliis is what St. Augustine saw when 
he made his episcopal house a monastery. If the establish- 
ment of one such house is a marvel far surpassing any 
other example of human government, what are we to say 
when it is continued on from generation to generation, when 
the home, iu its beginning and in all its principles super- 
natural, propagates itself, and, amidst the perpetual instability 
of human things, the fortress of Christian life shows a con- 
tinijiance of the same spirit, and through a line of centuries 



twenty fathers succeed each other, formed in the same 
mould, an inheritance of nobility far exceeding that of the 
noblest earthly families ? 

We are, then, contemplating a country which has passed 
from the settled civil government of the Boman empire into 
the hands of a new race. The Frank race, in its chief 
Clovis, had accepted the Catholic faith. In the preceding 
chapter we have suflBciently considered the quality of its 
acceptance and the character of its rulers. We have quoted 
the conclusion of a most competent historian, that during 
this Merovingian rule there was no State in the proper sense 
throughout the country which would constitute one France. 
Now taking the death of St. Benedict as an epoch, one 
which marks a moment of great disaster, when the Gothic 
war was inflicting upon Bome calamities terrible enough to 
have destroyed any city possessing only a civil life, when 
France was a scene of confusion and perpetual warfare, we 
have to note during 150 years the acceptance of this super- 
natural life by a vast multitude of men and women, both 
of Teutonic and of Gallo-Eoman race. Amongst these a 
captive Thuringian princess, the spoil of war, becomes a 
Christian, and is forced to be a queen. After a marriage 
as to which she had no choice, and living with a husband 
utterly unworthy of her, upon the occasion of an act of 
cruelty perpetrated on her brother, she obtains leave to quit 
him and to found a monastery, over which she presides for 
forty years, drawing round her two hundred companions. 
The royal race in her time is full of scandals and cruelties, 
which she tries in vain to overcome, which break out after 
her death even in her own monastery ; but her own example 
shines with the purest light of heroic faith and charity. 
It would take volumes to recite the history of those who 
gave up the wealth which they enjoyed as part of the con- 
quering nobility, and by their own example founded houses 
which exhibited lives instinct with that triple sacrifice, and 
in virtue of it producing every fruit of charity. As a rule, 
these monasteries began in great poverty, from the preach- 
ing of such men as St. Maurus and St. Columban. Then 
the vast gifts of land made to them by kings and rich 
zuen and women, both of the conquering and the subject 


race, form an endowment which at the time the land is 
given is of little present value. But the continual labour 
exercised on the cultivation of the land, as part of their 
rule, gradually raises the religious house to the highest 
secular rank and influence. The landless and houseless 
stranger missionary develops through ages of continual bene- 
faction towards the Christian neighbourhood, growing around 
his house into the abbot who ranks with princes, and is the 
counsellor of kings. 

But there is a third very important element running 
through the two just mentioned. This is the good- will of 
secular sovereigns to the monastic order and life. It is 
shown in Merovingian kings, not only when themselves 
good, if such there were, but even when dissolute in their 
private conduct. It is shown by Saxon kings in England, 
by Gothic in Spain. It runs through the nobility in all the 
countries wherein the invasion from the North takes effect. 
This whole temper of the two Powers to each other is a 
most marked feature during hundreds of years, and as part 
of this the spontaneous preference for the coenobitic life 
shown by both the sexes. The monks who began as laymen 
devoted to a strict Christian life and to manual labour, 
speedily became, by the choice of those among whom they 
lived, men most prized for the episcopal office. The monas- 
tery of St. Martin became the nursery of bishops. There 
ensued a very close union between bishops and monks. The 
Benedictine rule, beginning in France with the settlement of 
St. Maurus on the Loire, gradually became the rule of the 
monasteries planted by St* Columban, or derived by descent 
from those which he had planted. It was the rule of a 
Eoman nobleman accepted and supported by St. Gregory 
and the Popes who followed him. By no compulsion, but 
by the well-felt experience of its superior moderation and 
practical wisdom, this rule became that of the vast number 
of monasteries founded throughout France.^ The impulse 
given to the monastic state in the seventh century is said 
to have been greater than any which existed before in the 
West. We may contrast the permanency of these great 
monasteries with the fleeting character of the Fathers of the 

^ Montalembert, ii. 526. 


Desert in Egypt. And there is a contrast no less striking 
between tbe natural qualities of the Franco-German race, 
whose noblest in such multitudes embraced the monastic 
state, and those choice specimens of the Eastern Christians 
who originally embraced that state. No sources exist for 
giving a real history of the i 50 years following the advent 
of St. Maurus in 543. There is a perpetual civil war, a 
successive partition of territory, in the midst of which 
monastic sanctity emerges amid Merovingian barbarism. 
We can just trace five causes helping together to convert 
the shapeless mass of Teutonic violence into stable commu- 
nities possessing the one Catholic faith, clear of the Arian 
distemper. Five things were all necessary together ; no one 
of them could have been dispensed with. The vast number 
of monasteries, both of men and women, founded ; the vast 
gifts of land out of the desert into which France had then 
fallen, land at first of no value, but made precious by the 
cultivation which the energetic labour of the monks bestowed 
on it; the favour with which both sovereigns and nobles 
regarded the spiritual work, as well as the civilising labour 
of the religious orders. The union of the episcopate and 
the monks, and the guiding hand of the Papacy, fostering 
the reception of one rule. The union of the Papacy and 
the episcopate had existed from the beginning, but the de- 
struction of civilised life had been so great that it would 
not have sufficed alone to recover desolated wastes and 
overcome Gallo-Roman corruption. 

It is time that we should turn from the monastic life 
springing up in the foundation of numberless monasteries for 
men and for women throughout Gaul during the sixth and 
seventh centuries to the part which it took among other 
Northern races in the fifth.century. In the year 410 Alaric 
the Goth had taken Eome; in 451 the Mongol Attila had 
threatened both France and Italy with utter destruction ; 
in 455 the Vandal Genseric had plundered Rome again. 
In the generation which intervened between these events 
we may place the definitive overthrow of the Roman empire 
in Gaul, and the possession taken of it by successive hordes 
of Teutonic invaders. In the midst of it occurs that third 
General Council, the Council of Ephesus, which established 


for ever the dignity of the Blessed Virgin, by solemnly 
assigning to her the title of Mother of God. That Council 
was ratified by Pope Ccclestine when it had in its clearest 
terms recognised him as successor of St Peter, and the whole 
line of pontifiFs from St. Peter to him as the channel of that 
succession. The same Pope in the same year, 432, sent 
forth a missionary to Ireland, and bestowed upon him 
episcopal dignity for that work. In the year 409 the Eoman 
armies had been withdrawn from Britain for the defence of 
Italy. Britain ceased to be part of the empire, and entered 
a period of internal convulsions by submitting to Saxon in- 
vaders. Thus at the time that Gaul and Britain ceased to 
belong to the empire, the Pope sent forth one to extend the 
kingdom of Christ over an island which had never known 
the Eoman rule, and had long been held by a noble but 
barbaric race of heathens. 

Patrick, the missionary so sent, was the son of Calphur- 
nius, a provincial colonist. His mother, a relation of St. 
Martin of Tours, had fallen into captivity in Gaul, and been 
sold as a slave. In that condition the son of her master had 
married her, and they were living in the Roman service on 
the Clyde, near Glasgow, where Patrick first appears. In 
the year 373, at the age of sixteen, it fell to him to lose 
his parents, Calphurnius and Conchessa, and to be carried 
as a slave into Ireland, where during six years he tended 
his master's sheep. After a hard service in these six years, 
he took flight to the coast, and finally escaped into France. 

The old biographers unite in bringing him to St. Martin 
in the last years of that saint's life, when he was living at 
Marmoutier, and had become, by his eminent virtues and the 
number he attracted to him, the father of the monastic life 
in France. His death is placed in 397. Before that St. 
Patrick had been taught by him the rules of a severe and 
mortified life. He witnessed the government of his house 
and the death of that great saint, and must have been one 
of the two thousand monks who waited on his funeral. 
From Tours St. Patrick went to the island of Lerins, then 
nnder its founder, St. Honoratus. It was at the time that 
learning had taken refuge there from the assaults to which 
it was exposed in the wandering of the nations. And after 


Lerins the great renown of St. Germanus, Bishop of Anxerre, 
drew him to that place. Many years he spent there "in 
patience, obedience, brotherly love, chastity, and purity."^ 
Ancient lives attest this completion of Patrick's ecclesiastical 
education under St. Germanus, with whom he spent as many 
as fourteen years. When Pope Coelestine sent as his legate 
Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, to whom the Gallic bishops 
added St. Lupus, Bishop of Troyes, to help the British 
bishops to overcome the error of Pelagius, a.d. 429, St. 
Patrick accompanied them. It is recorded that on one 
occasion, when the preaching of St Germanus had not met 
with due effect, he took counsel with his companions. And 
Patrick said, " Let us keep a strict fast three days at the gate 
of the city, and leave the issue in God's hands." This met 
with success. At this time the same Pope had sent the 
deacon Palladius as bishop to convert Ireland. But he was 
not cordially received, resigned his task, and was returning 
back to Italy, when he died on his way in Britain. This 
death led to the commission given to St. Patrick to take his 
place. After long training in the school of St. Martin and 
St. Germanus, after visiting Rome and other parts of Italy, 
at the age of sixty, when the death of Palladius came to be 
known, Patrick received from Pope Coelestine the charge to 
go as missionary to a heathen island, where he could only 
expect to find martyrdom. 

St. Patrick was occupied sixty years in Ireland, from 433 
to 493, dying at the age of 120 years. He had planted 
the Christian faith throughout the whole island. He went 
fully instructed in that faith, and strengthened by observing 
the practice of the greatest masters of the spiritual life in 
Gaul, St. Martin, St. Honoratus, St. Germanus, St Lupus. 
In 403, at the ago of thirty, he had received the diaconate. 
The Church which he founded in Ireland learnt from him 
the monastic life which he had witnessed in Gaul, and the 
celibacy of the clergy which he himself had ever practised. 
Every future generation bore in steadfast memory his teach- 
ing and his wonderful deeds. The island to which he had 
come as a stranger with a mission from Pope CoDlestino iden- 
tified itself with him as its apostle with a fervour which has 

^ Bellesheim, p. 30, from Hogan« 


lasted to the present day. I restrict myself here to one par- 
ticular part of his teaching. He strove to propagate the 
ascetic zeal and love of knowledge which he had seen and 
shared at Marmoutier and Lerins in similar institutions* 
His last years, after he had laid down his active work as 
bishop, he spent in the monastery he had founded at Saul 
in Downshire. The like he founded at Downpatrick; 
another at Armagh, to which pupils came from across the 
se& Many others sprung from his personal foundation. 

In the sixth and seventh centuries great monasteries in 
Ireland made the golden age of the Irish Church ; her 
princes laid their crowns on the altar and became monks 
in them ; her noblest daughters became nuns. While the 
Continent trembled with the march of barbarian hordes, 
while Eastern lands, long in the possession of Christ, be* 
came the prey of Islam, which exterminated with special 
hatred the inmates of monasteries, Clonard, Clonmacnoise, 
Clonfert, Bangor became great centres of spiritual life. In 
study they ranked as universities; in holy zeal as foster- 
parents of missionaries and martyrs. At Clonard St. 
Columba was formed for his future work. The study of 
Scripture and the Fathers especially flourished here. At 
Clonfert on the Shannon there are said to have been at 
times about three thousand monks. On the north-eastern 
coast arose Bangor, the renown of which went everywhere, 
one of whose sons was the famous Columban. St. Comball 
founded it in 559, and governed it for more than forty 
years, while his spirit long continued in it. Its rule was 
very severe, as one of the hymns says, "Excellent the 
rule of Bangor, correct and divine, exact, holy, constant, 
exalted, just, and admirable. Blessed the family of Bangor, 
founded on unerring faith, graced with the hope of salva- 
tion, perfect in charity/' ^ 

We are not to suppose that these vast monasteries con- 
sisted of great buildings, as in the later Middle Ages. 
They were a collection of poor cells, not of stone, but of 
wood or wicker-work ; up to the eighth century they were 
so constructed.* 

The monastic life in Ireland becomes, as everywhere else, 

^ Bellesheim, p. 85. ' Bellesheim, p. 93. 


a perpetual spring of missionary zeaL In the inteiral 
between St. Patrick and the Danish invasions of Ireland 
went forth from her monasteries that stream of inspired 
men who helped to convert the neighbouring islands, and 
showed the fruits of their labours in Britain, Caledonia, 
Gaul, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Columban was one 
of these. His fearless spirit, his disregard of the most 
threatening dangers, his endurance of poverty, show in 
what manner these missionaries fought the hard battle with 
heathendom. Thus it was that they impressed the Christian 
life upon those who, in so many instances, surrendered that 
turbulent independence in which they were bom, and the 
wealth which conquest had given them, to imitate them- 
selves that severe and self-denying life which they saw the 
stranger practise. Columban, the puml of the Irish Bangor, 
became for some time the rival of St Benedict. Through 
him Luxeuil, and so many other great houses in France, 
derived from Bangor their parentage. " It was at the end 
of the sixth century that the action of Ireland on the region 
directly under Frank domination became decisive. Then 
Ireland paid off generously her debt to Gaul. She had 
received Patrick from Gaul; she gave back Columban."^ 
Let this, the greatest of them, represent that vast host of 
missionaries who came forth to make the Teutonic race 
Christian from the monasteries of an island which, when 
Coelestine sent out his missionary from a Rome deprived of 
temporal power, was itself only known as the abode of 
barbarous hordes wasted by perpetual intestine wars, and 
worshipping through long ages Druidic gods in its moun- 
tains, streams, and forests. 

It is in this sixth century and the seventh, when bar- 
barous ignorance had taken the place of learning in Gaul 
and Italy, that the learning sedulously practised and en- 
couraged by association of large numbers together, is praised 
in the Irish monasteries. The country was as yet undis- 
turbed by foreign aggression. The dwellers in monasteries 
enjoyed special privileges. In them the slave became free ; 
and, moreover, the natural clannish spirit powerfully con- 
tributed to maintain union in the monastery within, while 

^ Montalembert, ii. 468, quoted. 



protecting it from outward aggression. We find the study 
of the Scriptures, and the cultivation of the Latin and 
Greek, and even Hebrew languages, specially noted in a 
century towards the end of which Pope Agatho publicly 
deplores that the disturbance of civil life was so great as to 
prevent in Italy even the most necessary learning. This is 
the time when the peace, which was refused to the countries 
of the old Roman rule under Gothic war and Frank ish 
confusion, was enjoyed at least in the monasteries of the 
Western island before the cruel desecration of the Dane 

Especially on the west coast of Britain, in Cornwall and 
in Wales, Irish missionaries were active. The monastery 
of St. David's, in the beginning of the sixth century, was 
one of their most remarkable settlements. It had a great 
attraction for Irish pilgrims. From a spot near to the 
monastery, Patrick is said to have begun his mission to 
the land, having heard the call to him, '' That is the land 
which is to be thy inheritance for ever." St. David was 
attached to Ireland. Irish blood was in his mother s veins. 
An Irish bishop baptized him. Irish monks came to St. 
David's to strengthen themselves in monastic discipline. 
Glastonbury was a famous monastery when St Patrick 
went to Ireland. It was so beloved and frequented by 
the Irish as to be called "Glastonbury of the Irish in the 
land of the Saxons." Four hundred monks dwelt there, 
who in perpetual worship served God night and day, a 
hundred at a time.^ 

When Wales became the refuge of the Britons, who 
sought in its mountains the preservation of their independ- 
ence and their faith from the Saxons, we find monks asso- 
ciated with the princes who fought, as well as with the bards 
who daily with music and song encouraged them, and 
monks were the chief maintainers and propagators of 
Christian doctrine. King Arthur, according to the Celtic 
tradition, was crowned by Bishop Dubricius, whose history 
says that he was contemporary of St. Patrick as well as of 
King Arthur, was ordained by St. Germain of Auxerre 
Bishop of Llandaff, and that he lived very long, and finished 

> See Bellesheim, pp. 96-98. 


his life in tbe north of Wales as an anchoret. He bad edn* 
Gated more than a thousand monks. One of these^ St 
Iltud, founded the great monastery of the Welsh Bangor, 
which became a centre of religious propagation, as well as 
of political resistance to the Saxon conquerors. Bangor was 
said to have seven divisions, each of three hundred monks, 
who lived by manual labour. Iltud, says the legend of his 
life, was bom in Armorica, but was drawn into Wales by 
the renown of his cousin, King Arthur. He began as a 
warrior, but was converted at a falcon chase by seeing his 
companions, who were plundering St Cadoc, the founder of 
Llanarvan, when they were swallowed up suddenly by the 
earth. Iltud listened to St Cadoc, and consecrated him- 
self to the service of God, though he was married to a yonng 
and beautiful wife. He resigned his wife, his horses, and 
his servants, and dwelt in a forest, where the number of 
disciples coming to him speedily raised a monastery. 

Kentigem was one of the chief monastic personages in 
Wales, and founded there at St Asaph, by the confluence 
of the rivers Clyde and Elwy, an immense monastery of 
969 monks, of whom three hundred cultivated the ground, 
a like number worked in the monastery, and another three 
hundred celebrated without ceasing the Divine OflSce. The 
monastery became the seat of a bishop, for, as in Saxon 
England, every bishopric had a monastery for its cradle. 

More celebrated than all was St. David, who, as monk 
and bishop, became the patron of Wales. The son of a 
prince, nephew of King Arthur, though most irregularly 
born, he was brought up with great care, became a priest 
and a monk, who travelled much and exercised great in- 
fluence. Of the same date as St. Benedict, he likewise 
founded twelve monasteries, enjoining both manual labour 
and the labour of the mind. They were employed not 
only to fell the forest and dig the earth, but even to drag 
the plough themselves, and then retired to their cells to 
read or write, and to rise without finishing the half-written 
word at the sound of the bell for worship. 

He went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he was 
consecrated a bishop by the patriarch, and on his return 
he was recognised as metropolitan by all that part of the 


country which the Saxons had not yet invaded, presiding 
in two numerously attended councils. 

This great bishop and Breton chief was buried at St 
David's, where his tomb became a noted place of pilgrimage. 
Not only Welsh Bretons, and Irish, and others of Celtic race 
frequented it ; three English kings, William the Conqueror, 
Henry II., and Edward I., went there. It remains from 
his day to ours a spot of striking solemnity.^ 

One other must be named, the legend of whose story 
gives a picture of the time and the people. St. Kadoc 
was the son of a prince in Southern Wales sumaq^d the 
Warrior, who with three hundred vassals had broken into 
a neighbouring chiefs house and carried off on horseback 
his beautiful daughter. He not only stole a wife, but like- 
wise the cow of an Irish monk, to whom it served for sole 
support and that of his twelve disciples. The monk came 
to rescue his cow from the father of Kadoc, who used the 
opportunity to get him to baptize his new-born son, and 
afterwards to conduct his education. At the age of seven 
the young Kadoc was sent to the Irish monk, who for 
twelve years taught him grammar, and likewise taught him 
to prefer a solitary life to his father's domain. The young 
Prince Kadoc passed twelve years lighting the fire and 
dressing the food of the Irish monk, and then went to 
perfect himself in the Abbey of Lismore, at that time a 
celebrated school. Kadoc resolved to embrace the monastic 
life. He plunged into a forest, where he was nearly killed 
by the swineherd of a neighbouring chieftain. He came 
also by a deserted fountain upon an enormous wild boar, 
white with age, who made three bounds towards him, stop- 
ping at each to regard with fury the stranger who was 
intruding on his lair. Kadoc marked with three branches 
the springs of the wild boar. He chose them for the site 
of the church, the dormitory, and the refectory of the great 
Abbey of Llanarvon, which he founded. Llanarvon — " the 
church of the stags," because two of them had come to take 
the place of two idle and rebellious monks who had refused 
to be harnessed for drawing the beams wanted in the build- 
ing — Llanarvon was a great religious house with a most 

^ Montalembert, iii. 55-72, 


severe rule. They cleared the forest, and caltivated what 
they had cleared. It was also a great school of religion 
and learning, for the study of Scripture and ancient anthora. 
AmoDg many thoughts attributed fo the teaching of St 
Kadoc is this : " Truth is the eldest daughter of God ; 
without light is no good ; without light is no piety ; with- 
out light is no religion ; without light there is no £uth ; 
without seeing God there can be no light ; " and the ardour 
with which they pursued divine knowledge is well expressed 
in a similar triad : " Without knowledge there is no power ; 
without knowledge there is no wisdom ; without knowledge 
there is no liberty ; without knowledge there is no beauty ; 
without knowledge there is no nobility ; without knowledge 
there is no victory ; without knowledge there is no honour ; 
without knowledge there is no God." Kadoc was possessed 
after the death of his father and mother of large domains, 
and was a prince as well as a monk. Finally, the Saxons 
advanced to the banks of the Severn and the Usk. He 
saw his monastery profaned and wasted. He took refuge, 
as so many other victims of that terrible war took refuge, 
and founded another monastery in Armorica, which, in con- 
sequence of the British settling there, took its new name of 
Brittany. After many years he returned to Britain, and 
finished his course at Weedon, where a band of Saxons 
rode into the chuch and slew him as he was saying mass. 

The monastic life plays almost as great a part in the 
history of Wales as in that of Ireland. The Sees of Llan- 
daff and St. David's, of Bangor and St. Asaph, were cradled 
in it. 

We possess no detailed account of the destruction which 
the Saxon invaders wrought of the British Church, but one 
proof of that Church's power has survived, not only in the 
memory of man, but in its effect even to the present day.^ 
Armorica had remained up to 450 a heathen country, in 
which Druidical memorials abounded and Druidical super- 
stition prevailed. It became Catholic by a singular con- 
version. A host of British monks flying from Saxon 
savagery, at the head of a large male and female population, 
both of freemen and of slaves, flung themselves into boats, 

^ Montalembert, ii. 299-316. 


not of wood, but of stins sewn together/ and in these 
succeeded in passing the sea to the coast of Armorica. 
This Celtic emigration lasted a century, from 450 to 550; 
they came upon another Celtic people speaking their own 
language. The monks who led them gave their name, and 
the faith which they carried with them, to the land which 
hospitably received them. A Breton, himself a religious, 
apostrophising in the seventeenth century these apostles 
from across the sea, cried out to them, ** The sun has never 
shone upon ground of more constant and unchangeable 
fidelity to the true faith, from which you banished idolatry. 
Thirteen hundred years have passed in which infidelity has 
never polluted the language which served you to preach 
Jesus Christ. The man has yet to be born who has heard 
a Breton of Brittany preach any other religion than the 

The monks who came over the sea in the barks made 
of skin had a hard struggle, but they conquered at last. 
Fifty years after their coming, the peninsula had embraced 
in the main the faith which they brought over from Britain : 
the Church expiring in blood, whose three Archbishops of 
London, York, and Caerleon represented her in the Council 
of Aries, and besought Pope Silvester to carry out their 
decrees, has left an undying witness on Gallic soil. The 
monks, whether coenobite or solitary, formed the clergy for 
several centuries, and laid hold of the popular spirit, fixing 
in it that veneration for the priest which still continues. 
A vast number of monasteries sprang up on different points 
of the province, especially the coast. Such, on the farthest 
promontory, was St. Matthew's Abbey at the World's End, 
looking down upon a coast full of terror for the mariner. 

The principal communities created by these monks soon 
became bishoprics. Samson of Dol and his six suffragans, 

^ This is attested by a contemporary, Sidonius Apollinaris, who became 
Bishop of Clermont in 472 ; and before he was bishop, in his panegyric to his 
kinsman the Emperor Avitus (369), he writes : — 

'^Qain et Aremoricus piratam Saxona tractus 
Sperabat, cui pelle salum sulcare Britannum 
Luduf>, et assuto glaucum mare iindsre lembo." 

Gall-\ndi, X. p. 586. 

» Montalembert, iii. 297, 312-313, 31.6. . ■■■ ' 


all like himself monks, missionaries, and bishops, have been 
called the Seven Saints of Brittany ; and an Englishman of 
the nineteenth century may exult that the province of 
France most faithful to the one true religion is the dying 
legacy of the original British Church. 

The Celtic organisation, both in Ireland and in Scotland, 
rested from the beginning on the monastic life. In the 
vast number of monasteries preachers and teachers formed 
themselves in the strictest religious life and in persistent 
studies, both of the Latin and Greek languages, and of 
doctrine. They showed the most prodigious activity in 
their missionary work through various countries of Europe. 
An ancient writer has given the number of monasteries 
which Irish monks founded outside of Ireland. The list 
is probably imperfect, but he gives thirteen in Scotland, 
twelve in England, seven in France, twelve in Brittany, 
seven in Lorraine, ten in Alsatia, fifteen in Ehetia, Switzer- 
land, and Allemania, besides several more in Thoringia 
and on the left bank of the Lower Rhine, and six in Italy. 
Those who have been canonised as patrons and foanders of 
the churches for which they often shed their blood are a 
hundred and fifty in Germany, of whom thirty-six were 
martyrs; forty- five in Gaul, of whom six were martyrs; 
thirty in Belgium ; forty-four in England ; thirteen in Italy ; 
eight, all of them martyrs, in Norway and Iceland. 

While Ireland was sending out her sons into all regions 
of the then known world, a vast number of foreigners came 
to her to gather lore in that great treasure-house of faith 
and knowledge, which her insular situation enabled her to 
preserve at the time of barbarous invasions elsewhere. 

From the seventh to the eleventh century English students 
abounded in Ireland. The monks welcomed all comers, 
without stint and without payment, to all which they had 
to give, their instruction and their books. The Anglo- 
Saxons were those who most availed themselves of this free 
gifl. During four hundred years they frequented Irish 
schools, and before a Norman host was seen on Irish land, 
they had contracted the most precious debt towards those 
whom their descendants were to repay by a persecution 
of their faith during an equal period. Nor must it be 


forgotten that while the monasteries continued this their 
work, their annals bear witness that the secular life around 
them was disturbed by endless quarrels and contentions. 
The single words war,, desolation, plunder, slaughter, and 
the like, show that the zeal and charity of the religious 
life in monasteries left in full sway outside the natural 
passions to run their savage course, Ireland received the 
Christian faith, but continued still in respect of war that 
life which had not gone beyond the perpetual disunion of 
a tribal clanship. 

While the monastic life was spreading itself with great 
effect in France, and gathering under a discipline of obedi- 
ence, labour, and self-denial the most vigorous men and 
women of the Teuton race, it had, as we have just seen, 
taken a large part in that conversion of Ireland which St. 
Patrick accomplished. Let us place ourselves now at those 
fourteen years from 590 to 604 which mark the great 
pontificate of St, Gregory. The century at the close of 
which he rose was one of terrible disaster and suffering to 
Home and Italy, His birth, about 540, was very nearly 
contemporaneous with the death of St. Benedict; he has 
given the best account which we possess of the person and 
conduct of that saint. He witnessed the great extension 
of his rule in Gaul from the founding of its first house by 
St. Manrus. He is believed by the best authorities to have 
embraced that rule himself, and to have given up the palace 
which he inherited from his father to the observance of it 
before he became Pope, and when Pope, to have encouraged 
and supported it by his authority. His name is to be 
added to the greatest of those great names which, from St 
Athanasius and St. Augustine onwards, recommended to the 
Church the life itself. World-famous is the renown of his 
visit to the Roman Forum, when his compassion was drawn 
forth to the captive Angles, and when he made a resolution 
to deliver them from the double slavery of the flesh and 
of the spirit. Eight years would seem to have elapsed 
before he was able to carry out his purpose. He was 
willing to go himself as a missionary, and leave Rome 
for that lost and barbarous Isle of the West. He was 
destined^ after defending Rome for thirty years from the 


invasion of barbaroas Lombards, to send a monastic band 
from that palace in which he had lived as monk, and by 
them to convert a land which, having been Christian, had 
fallen a prey to a savage heathenism. 

It would seem that in the course of the 150 years ^ in 
which the Saxons had come into possession of the whole 
country, " the Christian religion had been so entirely ex- 
tinguished, that amongst all the Saxons there was not a 
single person professing it" on the coming of St Angus- 
tine. Such had been the oppression, that the small nnmber 
of Christian Britons who continued to live in Roman cities 
had left, and in 586 Theon, Bishop of London, and Thadioc, 
Bishop of York, abandoned their churches and took refuge, 
with the relics of their saints, in the Welsh mountains. So 
great were the wrongs and cruelties which the British had 
suffered in this long invasion of the land, that they who 
had carried the Christian religion with them in their retreat 
to Wales could never be prevailed on to join in preaching 
that religion to the Saxon conquerors. The Saxon language 
also obtained complete dominion over the British, and that 
portion of the Britons who still continued to subsist in sub- 
jection, gave up not only their religion, but their native 
tongue. The heathenism which had taken possession of 
Italy, France, and Spain, neither destroyed the Christian 
faith, nor substituted its own language for that of the in- 
vaded land. So much more terrible had the Saxon invasion 
of Britain been than the Frank, Burgundian, Gothic, or 
Lombardian invasion on the Continent. When St. Gregory 
cast his eyes of compassion on Britain, the subjection in 
which it lay, both as to the British people, the British 
language, and the Christian religion, was complete. 

In the six years during which he had been Pope h© 
had struggled against the pestilence within Rome itself, 
against famines, against inundations of the Tiber, against 
continual suspicion and enmity on the part of the Byzantine 
emperor, against the ever-menacing encroachments of the 
Lombard invaders. His own words describe the extent to 
which his mind was assaulted by these trials, so that in 
the impending fall of Rome he expected the end of all 

^ Burke, 2nd. Book of History, i. 253 ; and Orar.ain, ii. 148. 


tilings. The great island whict, two hundred years before, 
had been part of the empire, bad sabmitted instead to sac- 
cessive attacks of Saxon invaders. These were accounted 
to be the least civilised of any among the multitude of 
tribes which Germany had sent forth, and none so well as 
he knew the misery and confusion whirh their coming 
had wrought in what had been the empire. What act of 
greater faith, of more heroic courage, could there be than to 
direct the prior of a Soman monastery, at the head of forty 
monks, to attempt the conversion of those who had made 
the whole island heathen, except that mountainous part 
wherein their victims had taken refuge ? 

Of Augustine ^ we are told that it was in obedience to 
the call of the Pope, who had before been his abbot, that he 
undertook this work, and in the same obedience his com- 
panions followed. They had gone so far on their way as 
to be close to the island of Lerins, when the reports which 
they met of the barbarous, savage, and unbelieving nations 
to whom they were sent, not knowing a word of their 
languages, induced them, after taking counsel together, to 
send Augustine back to the Pope, with an earnest applica- 
tion that they might not attempt so dangerous, toilsome, and 
hazardous a pilgrimage. St. Gregory delivered to Augustine 
the following answer to their entreaty : — " Gregory, servant 
of the servants of God, to the servants of our Lord. Since 
it would be better not to begin good things than to with- 
draw in thought from them when begun, fulfil, beloved 
sons, with the utmost zeal, the good work on which, by the 
help of the Lord, you have entered. Let not the labour 
of the journey, nor the tongue of ill-speaking men, deter 
you, but carry through, with all urgency and fervour, what, 
by God's prompting, you have begun, knowing that great 
labour is followed by a greater glory of eternal reward. 
When Augustine, your superior, rejoins you, whom we also 
appoint your abbot, yield him in all things humble obedi- 
ence, knowing that whatever at his injunction you complete 
will in all things profit your souls. Almighty God protect 
you with His grace, and grant me to behold the fruit of 
your work in the eternal country, so that, though I cannot 

^ Bede, JSUt,, i. 23,' 24, 25. 



work with you, I may be fonnd together with you in iihe 
joy of reward, because it is my will to work. Beloved sons, 
God keep you in safety." 

Gregory likewise recommended the missionaries to the 
Archbishop of Aries, whose ancient See then held the 
primacy of Gaul ; also to the bishops of Tours, Marseilles, 
Vienne, and Autun, and to Queen Brunehaut, then in her 
greatness. So they traversed France, where sometimes forty 
men, travelling as pilgrims and passing the night under a 
lofty tree, met with mockery and derision. So at length 
they arrived at the same spot in the Isle of Thanet to which 
Julius Caesar carried the Homan conquests and Hengist the 

Augustine found Ethelbert reigning in Kent,^ and sent 
to him Frank interpreters by command of Pope Gregory, 
who were to announce that he had come .from Borne with 
tidings of high import, promising to those who obeyed him 
eternal joys in heaven, and an endless kingdom with the 
living and true God. Ethelbert, hearing this, bade them 
remain in the island where they were, and be supplied 
with what they needed until he could see what to do ; for 
the report of the Christian religion had already reached 
him, inasmuch as he had for wife Bertha, a daughter of 
the royal Frank race, and of its king at Paris, whom he 
had taken on condition of her being allowed freely to 
practise her religion under safeguard of a bishop who 
attended on her. 

After some days the king came to them in the island, 
meeting them in the open air, that he might not be subject 
to any imagined magical power. But they came to him 
not with a demoniacal, but with a divine power, bearing 
as their banner a silver cross and a picture of the Lord 
our Saviour, singing a litany in which they besought their 
own salvation and that of those for whose sake they had 
come. And they stopped at the king's command and 
preached the word of life to him and all that were with 
him. And he replied, ** Your words and promises are fair ; 
but since they are new and uncertain, I cannot so assent to 
them as to give up what I have kept for so long a time with 

I Bede, i. 25. 


the whole English people. But since you have come as 
pilgrims hither from so far, and as I seem to see that you 
^vish to communicate to us what you think true and very 
good, we will not molest you, but rather receive you with 
kind hospitality and provide you with needful food, nor do 
we forbid you to associate by your preaching all whom 
you can gain to your faith." So he gave them a dwelling 
in the city which was the metropolis of his whole kingdom. 
And as, according to their custom, they drew near the city 
with the holy cross and the picture of the great King, 
our Lord Jesus Christ, they sung in harmony the litany, 
" We beseech thee, Lord, in all Thy mercy, that Thy wrath 
and anger be removed from this city, and from Thy holy 
house, for we have sinned. Alleluia." 

When they had entered in the dwelling given to them,^ 
they began to imitate the apostolic life of the early Church. 
They maintained perpetual prayer, watching, and fasting; 
they preached the word of life to whom they could ; they 
despised everything of this world as not belonging to them ; 
they received only the necessary food from those whom they 
taught ; they lived in accordance with all that they taught ; 
they showed the will to suffer every adversity, even to die 
for the truth which they proclaimed. Some believed and 
were baptized, admiring the simplicity of their innocent life 
and the sweetness of their heavenly doctrine. Near the 
city, to the east, there was a church dedicated to St. Martin, 
built in old times when the Romans possessed Britain, in 
which the queen, Bertha, who, as we said, was Christian, 
used to pray. This they used to frequent, to sing, pray, 
and say mass, until, after the king's conversion, they re- 
ceived a larger permission to preach and to build or restore 

But after that the king, among others, deeply touched 
with their extreme purity of life and the charm of their 
promises, the truth of which they had established by work- 
ing many miracles, believed and was baptized, those who 
came to hear them increased in numbers, relinquished their 
heathen worship, and joined in belief the unity of the holy 
Church of Christ The king is said to have shown great 

1 Bede, L 26. 


pleasure at their faith and conversion, while he compelled no 
one to be Christian, but only embraced those who believed 
with warmer affection as his fellow-citizens in the heavenly 
kingdom ; for he had learnt from the teachers and aathors 
of his own salvation that the service of Christ must be 
accepted out of fr^e-will, not upon compulsion. And the 
king at once bestowed upon his teachers a suitable residence 
in his metropolis, and other possessions of various kinds 
which they needed. 

The first Christian king of the Saxons was baptized at 
the Pentecost of the year 597, the next following the advent 
of Augustine ; ie was accompanied by many of his people. 
The beginning of the church of Canterbury took place in 
the voluntary acceptance of the Christian faith received 
from the tgachjng of monks specially sent by the Pope. 
No possession did they bring with them but a silver cross 
and a picture of their Saviour borne in procession. The 
Pope's recommendation to the Frank bishops and to Bmne- 
haut, then in the height of her power as queen, carried them 
through Gaul. The king of Kent permitted them to deliver 
their message, weighed it with deliberation, was moved by 
the sanctity of their life, and by the miracles which attested 
their truth. After his baptism he bestowed his own palace 
in Canterbury upon them, as Constantine had bestowed on 
Pope Silvester the palace in which the cathedral of Rome 
was built. 

Augustine, so far crowned with success, returned at once 
through Gaul to Aries, to receive consecration from its arch- 
bishop, who held the pallium over all the bishops of the 
Frank kingdom, and had received from the Pope the com- 
mission to consecrate him as archbishop of the English. 
He returned at once as bishop to Canterbury, and sent two 
of his company to bear to St Gregory the joyful news of 
his own consecration and of the converted people. One of 
these was Laurentius, at that time a priest, who was to be 
his successor, and one Peter, a monk, who was to be the first 
abbot of the new monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, then 
about to be founded ; and they bore from the Archbishop 
a number of questions concerning the spiritual government 
of this new people, which he proposed to Pope Gregory for 


answer. The Pope sent back these messengers with careful 
answers to the questions, showing the great interest which 
he took in the conversion, and the care which he took in 
forming them aright when converted. It had indeed fol- 
lowed from the mission originated by himself; and as St. 
Augustine had suggested that the harvest was abundant but 
the labourers few, the Pope sent back with the two messengers 
several fresh missionaries, monks like the others, Mellitus, 
Justus, Paulinus, and Ilufinianus,^ and everything required 
for the worship and ministry of the Church — sacred vessels, 
altar clothings, vestments for the priests and clergy, relics 
likewise of apostles and martyrs, and many books. He also 
wrote that he had sent the pallium to Augustine, and 
marked in what manner he should appoint bishops in Britain. 
His words are r " Since this new Chnrch of the Angles has 
been brought about by the gift of the Lord and by your 
labour, we grant yon the use of the pallium, only at the 
solemnity of mass, so that you may ordain twelve bishops, 
each in his place, to be subject to your rule ; and that the 
Bishop of London may ia future always be consecrated by 
his own synod, and receive the honour of the pallium from 
this holy and apostolic See, which by God's gift I serve. 
To York it is our will that you send such a bishop as you 
shall ordain ; so that, if it receive, together with the neigh- 
bouring region, the Word of God, he also shall ordain twelve 
bishops, and be a metropolitan, because it is our intention, 
if life continue, to grant him the pallium, whom, however, 
during your life, it is our will to submit to you ; but alter 
your death he will preside over the bishops whom he has 
ordained, so as not to be subject to the Bishop of London. 
But your fraternity shall have subject to you, not only the 
bishops whom you have yourself ordained, nor those only 
ordained by the Bishop of York, but all the bishops of 
Britain, by authority of God our Lord Jesus Christ, so that 
they may learn the rule of right belief and good life from 
the lips and the life of your holiness." The intention herein 
noted of making the Bishop of London primate was not 
carried out, but Canterbury, as the capital of Ethelbert, was 

' Bede,.Hi8t., L 29. . ^ Greg. Ep. xL 65. 


Among the questions^ proposed by Aogastine, one was 
how he should act with the bishops of Gaul and of Britaio. 
To this the Pope's answer ran, " We give you no anthority 
over the bishops of Gaul, because, from the old time of my 
predecessors, the Bishop of Aries has received the ])alliuin, 
whom we should by no means deprive of the authority 
enjoyed by him. But all the bishops of Britain we commit 
to your fraternity, that, if unlearned, they may be instrncted ; 
if weak, they may be strengthened by persuasion ; if per- 
verted, they may be corrected by authority." 

What took place at the first Christmas on the return of 
the new Archbishop in the year 597, Pope St. Gregory thus 
records to his friend Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria: ** The 
nation of the Angles, seated in the extreme point of the 
world, would still be dwelling without faith in the worship 
of trees and stones, but, encouraged by your prayers, I sent 
to them, by impulse from God, a monk of my monastery to 
preach to them. With my permission he had been made a 
bishop by the German bishops, and, supported by them also, 
he has reached this nation at the end of the world, and 
now tidings have come to us of his welfare and work, that 
either he or those sent with him are so distinguished in that 
nation as to seem to imitate the* great deeds of the apostles 
in the miracles which they exhibit. At the feast of the Lord's 
Nativity, more than ten thousand Angles are announced to 
us as having been baptized by this our brother and col- 

We do not possess a contemporary history of Ireland's 
conversion by one man.^ We have from St. Patrick him- 
self that account of his life called his Confession, bequeathed 

^ These questions and answers to them are contained in St. Gregory's Ep. 
xi. 64, col. 1 1 50-1 163, inserted by Bede in his History. 

* Ep. lib. viii. 30. 

' A good substitute for such a history may be found in that volume of elc»- 
quent genius named the *' Legend of St. Patrick," by Aubrey de Vere. Those 
who master this series of poems will be able to comprehend the majesty of 
Patrick as a teacher, the skill with which he treated a race barbarous indeed. 
but living largely on patriarchal inherited traditions, capable in both its sexes 
of sacrifice and self-denial, whose men embraced martyrdom, w^hose women 
embraced virginity, whose kings embraced Christian law when the life-giving 
stream of baptism was poured on them by him who bore the crosier-staff 
given by the hand of Christ Himself, and kept as the most sacred of relics by 
the See of Armagh until it was destroyed by the agents of Queen Elizabetlu 


to us shortly before its close, and one letter to a chieftain 
denouncing his cruelty. We know that the marvellous 
conversion wrought in those sixty years amongst a people of 
such a character is a fact, for the continuous faith of four- 
teen hundred years bears witness to it, the life of innumer- 
able confessors, the labours of a missionary host, the death 
of unsurpassed martyrs. We know that the monastic spirit 
which Patrick had found at Eome, at Marmoutier, at Lerins, 
at Anxerre, he planted deep in the hearts of his people. 
But the one thing which we do not possess in the case of 
Patrick we have given to us in the case of Augustine : a 
mission from Eome attested by him who sent it, as he says 
himself, " Auctore Deo," by an impulse derived from God ; 
the first arrival, the immediate result, the announcement of 
miracles with which it was accomplished. We have the 
primacy of England bestowed by the Pope, and recorded 
by the Pope himself who bestowed it ; the tender nursing 
of the infant Church in the arms of him whose labour and 
danger gained it, directed by that spirit from whose love, 
superior to all fear, to all impossibility, to all hazard, it 
sprung. It rose to the astonishment of all beholders. Forty 
monks, coming straight from the palace on the Coelian Hill, 
which had been made a monastery by its possessor, won back 
a realm to Christ which had once been His, but had become 
the lair of internecine war and nature-worship. 

Trace the nine centuries which unfold themselves, having 
their root in the silver cross, the picture of the Lord, the 
chanted litany of the bearers, as they approach the Saxon 
king, " We beseech thee, Lord, by all Thy mercy, that 
Thy wrath and anger be turned away from this city, for we 
have sinned. Alleluia." The king first listens, then re- 
flects, afterwards he returns their visit in the isle where he 
has left them. Later he believes them and trusts them. 
The fifth from Hengist in a race of pirates and freebooters, 
he becomes the first of a race of kings ^ and queens and 
princesses, who will lay their crowns on the altar of St. 
Peter's, who will vield their bodies to be buried under the 
shadow of his church, who will dwell in the silence of 

^ Ozanam, ii., 169. Lingard gives them : Casdwalla, Ine, Offa, Csered, Offa^ 
Siric, Ethelwulf, and Canute, i. 105. 


monasteries rather than in the bridal chambers of mon- 
archs. Ethelbert, the first son of Odin who becomes a 
Christian, is distant bnt two generations from that daughter 
of a Saxon king who, in spite of being forced into two mar- 
riages, kept her original vow of continence, left a throne 
after twelve years' possession of it, and founded a double 
monastery on the ground which her first husband had given 
her as a dowry, so that the love lOf succeeding generations 
melted down her name of Etheldreda into that of Audrey, 
to be a household word of veneration during eight hundred 
years. And again, Ethelbert's own grand-daughter was that 
Queen Eanfleda who fostered and educated St. Wilfrid, the 
counsellor and supporter of Etheldreda's resolution, as the 
first to carry his appeal against every wrong to the throne 
of St. Peter. Ethelbert had seen the last two Christian 
bishops of London and of York leave their churches and fly 
for refuge into Walea From his conversion dates that 
belief among the Saxons in the presence of Christ in the 
sacrifice of the mass which filled the whole land with 
churches, and from those forty monks came that monastic 
spirit in both sexes M'hich prevailed with unheard of power 
throughout the land. 

*' To the Saxons, in whom, during the tide of conquest, 
the opportunity of gratification had strengthened the impulse 
of the passions, a life of chastity appeared the most arduous 
effort of human nature ; they revered its professors as beings 
of a nature, in this respect, superior to their own, and 
learned to esteem a religion which could elevate a man so 
much above the influence of his inclinations. As they be- 
came acquainted with the maxims of the gospel, their vene- 
ration for this virtue increased, and whoever compares the 
dissolute manners of the pagan Saxons with the severe 
celibacy of the monastic orders, will be astonished at the 
number of male and female recluses who, within a century 
after the arrival of St. Augustine, had voluntarily embraced 
a life of perpetual continency." ^ 

In another of these documents which I have termed con- 
temporaneous, a letter from St. Gregory to that Mellitus 
whom he was sending to replenish the mission of St. Angus- 

^ Lingard, " Anglo-Saxo^ Church," i. 201. 


tine, and who became Aqgustine's second successor, the 
Pope shows how the spirit that guided him repeated the 
manner of teaching which St. Patrick had shown.^ *' Gre- 
gory to Mellitus, Abbot in France : After the departure or 
our troop which accompanies you, we were kept in great 
suspense by having no good tidings of your journey. But 
when Almighty God has brought you to our most reverend 
brother, the Bishop Augustine, tell him what, after long 
thought upon the English matter, I have considered. It 
is that the temples of idols should be by no means destroyed 
among that people, but only the idols which are in them. 
Have holy water and sprinkle them therewith, build altars, 
and put in them relics; because if the same temples are 
well built they must be changed from the worship of demons 
into obedience to the true God ; so that the nation, seeing 
that the temples themselves are not destroyed, may banish 
error from the heart, and, learning and adoring the true 
God, may more readily meet at the accustomed spots. And 
because they are wont to kill many oxen in sacrifice, in 
their case also there should be a change in the solemnity 
practised. On the day of dedication, or the birthdays of 
the holy martyrs whose relics are placed there, let them 
make themselves tents of boughs round about those churches 
which have been changed from temples, and celebrate the 
worship with religious entertainments. Nor are they to 
immolate animals to the devil, but kill them for their own 
food to the honour of God, and return thanks to the Giver 
of all for their satisfied appetite. So, by reserving for them 
Bome external pleasures, they may be able to consent more 
easily to inward joys. For it is clearly impossible to sever 
hard minds at one stroke from everything ; just as the man 
who tries to mount a lofty spot must get up by stairs or 
steps, not by leaping. So also the Lord made Himself 
known to the people of Israel in Egypt, but kept for them 
in His own worship the use of sacrifices, which it had been 
their custom to ofier to devils, commanding in His own 
worship the immolation of animals. Thus, with a change 
of heart, they would lose one thing but keep another in the 
sacrifice. There would be the same animals which they 

^ Ep. xi. >6, p. 1176. • - • . .' 


were accustomed to offer, but immolating tbem to God 
and not to idols, they would not be the same sacrifices. 
This your dilection must say to your brother that he, being 
on the spot, may estimate how to dispense in every ca^ 
My very dear son, God keep you in all things/* 

A comment^ made on this passage is that the Roman 
Church made it a rule to distinguish two things in heathen- 
ism : one, error in adoring the creature ; another, trntii, 
which forms the essence of religion, as conceived and willed 
by human nature, with temples, priesthoods, and sacrifices* 
Far dearer than the land which bears them, or the children 
brought up on their knees, are the traditions which conse- 
crate their land and the festivals which for a moment break 
off the monotony of life. 

The Church founded in England by St. Augustine's mis- 
sion from St. Gregory, was not only begun by monks, bat 
was to be continued in monks. St. Augustine's first message 
to the Pope was, " How are bishops to live with their clergy, 
how to divide the oblations made for their support ? " The 
Pope's reply is, " The custom of the Apostolic See is to hand 
over a rule to bishops, when ordained, to divide .all their 
income into four portions — one for the bishop and his house- 
hold for hospitality and reception, a second for the clergy, a 
third for the poor, a fourth for the repair of churches. But 
since your fraternity, learned in the rules of the monastery, 
ought not to live separate from the clergy in the English 
Church, which, by inspiration of God, has lately been brought 
to the faith, you should institute that mode of life which 
at the beginning of the Church was the life of our fathers, 
amongst whom no one said that anything which he possessed 
was his own, but all things were common to them." * 

In these words the monastic life is prescribed for the 
bishop and his clergy, and in accordance with them, Augus- 
tine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, lived as a monk, 
and his four next successors, Laurentius, Mellitus, Justus, 
and Honorius, were monks like himself, of the band who 
accompanied him, or were added to it afterwards. 

These two conversions, of Ireland under St. Patrick in the 
fifth century, from a.d. 432-492, and of England in the 

' By Ozanam, iu 159, ^ Ep. xi. 64; Ozanam, ii. i6a 


seventh century under St. Augustine, in 596-607, and his 
successors, down to the end of St. Theodore in 690, for a 
period of ninety-four years, are events not only of so great 
importance in the history of the monastic life and its effects, 
but in the whole establishment of the Christian religion, that 
it will be well to draw out some of the lessons which they 
jointly teach us. They are conversions like none which 
preceded them in the history of the Church. 

First, as to Ireland : The sixty years during which, under 
the instruction of one man, a missionary sent from Rome, it 
passed from a heathen country, divided among a number of 
tribal chiefs, whose worship consisted in a certain venera- 
tion for forests, streams, and mountains, " a race barbaric, 
but far indeed from savage," ^ " preserving in a largo 
measure the patriarchal system of the East," into a race 
accepting the Christian faith in its completeness, was pre- 
cisely the time at which that Christian faith in three great 
countries, Italy, France, and Spain, was undergoing fearful 
losses by invasion from Teuton tribes, also barbarous, and 
living on their own wild traditions. While Attila was 
devastating Gaul and Italy, and aiming to reduce Rome 
itself from the capital of the world to Mongol annihilation, 
that Patrick, whom Rome's Bishop had sent out twenty 
years before to convert an unknown island, had brought 
it to accept the faith imperilled in Italy, had taught its 
sons and daughters to surrender themselves to the monastic 
life. That monastic life which, starting from the deserts 
of Egypt in the third century, had won for itself homes 
scattered through all the provinces of the Roman empire, 
now, when that empire was falling a prey to heathen in- 
vasion, appeared for the first time as a chief instrument 
of national conversion in the case of tribes very much in the 
condition of the Teuton conquerors in lands long Christian 
and Catholic. That saint, without his equal as a converter, 
had power given to him to draw to the Christian faith the 
nobler part of a Celtic race distinguished for its natural 
gifts. In Erin "her clans were families, and her chiefs 
were patriarchs, who led their household to battle, and seized 
or recovered the spoil. To such a people the Christian 

1 " Legends of St Patrick.*' 


Church announced herself *by the voice of Patrick' as a 
great family — the family of man." ^ And this he did 
when at Rome a Roman emperor was proclaimed to be 
needless, and a barbarian, who had become an Arian mis- 
believer, ruled over a trampled Italy in his stead. And 
with such effect had Patrick turned clans into monasteries^ 
that not only had they become seats of learning when France 
and Italy had lost the learning which they had once pos- 
sessed, but the monks whom they nurtured went forth into 
those lands at their utmost need, and the houses founded 
by a Columban, and others whom he represents, in the end 
wrought out a new and more Christian France, which grew 
up under the rule of St. Benedict, and gained the final 
victory for the Catholic faith in a Catholic realm. 

As to the conversion of Britain, it is well to consider 
what Burke has recorded, that " whatever was the condition 
of the other parts of Europe, it is generally agreed that 
the state of Britain was the worst of all." * And he notes 
that "on the Continent the Christian religion after the 
Northern irruptions not only remained but flourished. In 
England it was so entirely extinguished that when Augus- 
tine undertook his mission, it does not appear that among all 
the Saxons there was a single person professing Christianity." 
But Lingard, in his most careful study, enlarges this picture. 
" By the ancient writers the Saxons are unanimously classed 
with the most barbarous of the nations that invaded and 
dismembered the Roman empire. Their valour was dis- 
graced by its brutality. To the services they generally 
preferred the blood of their captives; and the man whose 
life they condescended to spare was taught to consider 
perpetual servitude a gratuitous favour. Among themselves 
a rude and imperfect system of legislation intrusted to 
private revenge the punishment of private injuries, and 
the ferocity of their passions continually multiplied these 
deadly and hereditary feuds. Avarice and the lust of 
sensual enjoyment had extinguished in their breasts some 
of the first feelings of nature. The savages of Africa may 
traffic with Europeans for the negroes whom they have 

^ ''Legends of St Patrick," preface, p. 19. 

^ Burke, '* Abridgment of English History,'* Book ii. eh. L p. 254. 


seized by treachery or captured in open war, but the more 
savage conquerors of Britain sold without scruple to the 
merchants of the Continent their countrymen, and even 
their own children. Their religion was accommodated to 
their manners, and their manners were perpetuated by their 
religion. In their theology they acknowledged no sin but 
cowardice, and revered no virtue but courage. Their gods 
they appeased with the blood of human victims. Of a 
future life their notions were faint and wavering ; and if 
the soul were fated to survive the body, to quaff ale out of 
the skulls of their enemies was to be the great reward of 
the virtuous; to lead a life of hunger and inactivity the 
endless punishment of the wicked/' ^ 

Now taking the 150 years from the coming of Augustine 
to the Council at Cloveshoe in 747, let us review some 
points of the religion which he and his successors had 
firmly planted in Saxon soil. 

In about eighty years the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons 
was successfully completed.^ The Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, as named by St. Gregory the Great to be the chief 
bishop of the English, had taken his place at their head. 
The four immediate successors of St. Augustine were monks 
like himself, and of the same band who brought the Christian 
religion from the monastery on the Coelian Hill by Gregory's 
command. To Honorius, the fifth archbishop, Pope Honorius 
writing,' specially noted that the archbishop " followed the 
rule of his teacher and head, St. Gregory," which he begs 
that God may confirm with perpetual stability ; that what 
he and his predecessors had gained from the beginning made 
by Gregory might be blessed with increase. The Pope 
added that, in accordance with his own petition, as well as 
that of the kings, his sons, he granted him authority, in 
the name of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, that when 
one see of an archbishop should be vacant, the other arch- 
bishop might consecrate the successor, and that he had for 
this sent the pallium to each. This was granted on account 
of the distance intervening between Ptome and Canterbury, 
and of the inconvenience which delay might cause. This 

^ Lingard, "Anglo-Saxons," i. 41. = Ibid., i. 36. 

' Bede, ii. 1 8, i lo ; Mansi, x. 583. 


letter was dated in the year 633, that which sacceeded the 
death of Mohammed. It reminds us that the whole conver- 
sion of England, which followed during the remainder of 
that seventh century, and being itself the work of monks, 
ensued on the establishment of so many monasteries for 
both sexes throughout England, was exactly coeval with the 
outburst of the Mohammedan religion in the East. That 
outburst showed itself in special animosity against the 
monastic life. Its whole religion and mode of life was in 
direct antagonism to the religion and mode of life which 
St. Gregory had sent to England, and he was called to his 
reward before the faintest appearance of the new religion 
had come into the world. 

To a letter ^ of Archbishop Honorius asking Pope Hono- 
rius that the authority of his See might be confirmed by 
the privilege of Papal authority, the Pope replied, " Without 
any delay, assenting of our own accord, because it is right 
that what has once been decreed and disposed by our pre- 
decessors be confirmed by us ; following their footsteps, 
according to old custom, which your Church has held to 
the present from the time of Augustine of holy memory, 
your predecessor, we grant, Honorius, to you and your suc- 
cessors for ever, by authority of blessed Peter, Prince of the 
Apostles, the primacy over all the churches of Britain. We 
command, therefore, all the churches and regions of Eng- 
land to be subject to your jurisdiction. And that the 
metropolitan place and honour of the archiepiscopate and 
the head of all the churches of the English peoples be ever 
for the future kept in the city of Canterbury, and be changed 
by no man through any evil persuasion to another place. 
But if any one do to the contrary, through instinct of pride 
and in disobedience to our authority, and contend for resist- 
ance to the terms of dignity granted to that Church, let him 
know that he is separated from partaking of the body and 
blood of Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer." 

Thus in the fifth archbishop we find the original autho- 
rity given by St. Gregory confirmed, and at the same time 
his intention to place a second archbishop at York, and each 
of them to have the pallium ; and the direction that on the 

^ Mansi, x. 583 ; Wilkins, i. 35. 


3eatli of one the other should consecrate his successor, car- 
ried out in the case of Paulinus, who consecrated Honorius 
at Lincoln. But Paulinus was driven away from York, 
became Bishop of Rochester, and dying, left his pallium 
there, which was not bestowed on York again until Arch- 
bishop Egbert's time in 734. 

But the grant to Canterbury continued. ** The successors 
of Augustine often exercised the metropolitan authority 
beyond the limits of their own province, perhaps in virtue 
of their office of apostolic vicar, which seems to have been 
constantly granted to them together with the pallium.^ 

" By Archbishop Theodore the discipline of the Anglo- 
Saxon Church was reduced to a more perfect form." But 
from the beginning " the national church of the Anglo- 
Saxons was not an isolated body unconnected with and in- 
dependent of the rest of Christendom. It formed from its 
establishment an integral part of the Catholic or universal 
Church, governed by the same laws, and acknowledging the 
same gradation of rank and authority from the parish priest 
to the prelate who sat in the chair of St. Peter." " Twice in 
the year, on the calends of May and November, the bishops 
were to summon their clergy to meet them in the diocesan 
synod. Above these the convoking of national councils was 
vested in the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which he would 
be directed sometimes by his own prudence, but sometimes 
by the commands of the Popes. More frequently by the 
decrees of preceding councils." " The metropolitan selected 
the subjects of discussion, and composed a competent num- 
ber of canons, which he submitted to the judgment of his 
brethren. Their approbation imparted to them the sanction 
of laws which bound the whole Saxon Church, and were 
enforced with the accustomed threat of excommunication 
against the transgressors." 

*'But there was still another authority acknowledged in 
the Anglo-Saxon Church, higher than even that of the 
national council, the authority of the Bishop of Rome as 
successor of St. Peter." " When," says Bede,^ " St. Gregory 

^ Lingard, "Anglo^SAXon Church," i. 77, 83, 96, 99, 100, 103, 104, 105, 
^ Bede, il i, 69, 7a 


was holding the first pontificate in the whole world/ and 
already presided over the churches which had received faith 
in the truth, he made our nation, up to that time ensla?ed 
to idols, to be the Church of Christ, so that we may well 
hold concerning him that apostolic language, if he is not an 
apostle to others, at least he is to us ; for we are the seal 
of his apostolate in the Lord." From Gregory's time, with- 
out a break, they counted his benediction as the choicest of 
blessings. To obtain it was one of the principal motives 
which drew so many pilgrims to Rome, eight Saxon kings 
being among them. The clergy of each church, the monks 
of each convent, sought to shelter themselves under his 
protection. Monarchs, sensible that their authority was 
confined to the narrow limits of their own lives, besought 
in favour of their religious foundations the interference of 
a power whose influence would always last. Papal charters, 
said to have been issued at the prayer of kings, bishops, 
and abbots, in confirmation of grants and concessions made 
by the civil power, are to be found in the collections of 
Anglo-Saxon councils. There cannot be a doubt of the 
actual existence of such instruments as early as the middle 
of the seventh century. When St. Ben net Biscop had built 
the monastery of St. Peter at Wearmouth on the land given 
him by King Egfrid, he proceeded to Rome with the permis- 
sion, consent, desire, and exhortation of that monarch, to 
procure a letter of privilege from Pope Agatho, which might 
protect the monastery from all external violation of its rights. 
St. Wilfrid about the same time obtained a similar charter 
of confirmation for his monasteries at Ripon and Hexham. 

But the confirmation of royal grants and monastic pri- 
vileges was the least important part in the exercise of the 
Papal prerogative. By his authority the Pontifl^, ist, estab- 
lished, extended, or restricted the jurisdiction of the archi- 
episcopal sees ; 2nd, confirmed the election of the metro- 
politans ; 3rd, enforced the observance of canonical discipline ; 
and 4tbly, revised the decisions of the national councils. 

While the division of old or the erection of new bishoprics 
was intrusted to the metropolitan in his provincial council, 
with the consent of the king and the Witan, no establish- 
ment or alteration of metropolitan sees could take place 


without the authority of the Pontiff. Gregory the Great 
divided the Anglo-Saxon territory into two provinces. 
Pope Vitalian placed all the Anglo-Saxon churches under 
the jurisdiction of Theodore, and sanctioned the twelve 
bishops which arose under his organisation. Bede before 
his death had the satisfaction to greet Archbishop Egbert ^ 
at York as receiving once more the gift of the pallium in 
that see after its discontinuance when St. Paulinus was 
driven away. Pope Adrian I. was induced to put a third 
metropolitan at Lichfield, but his successor, Leo III., revoked 
that disposition and confirmed its former jurisdiction to 
Canterbury, which so continued until the change of religion 
in the sixteenth century. 

We must not forget one important point in the discipline 
of that age. The archbishop formed the connecting link 
between the bishops of his province and the Bishop of Home. 
Their election was confirmed by him, his by the Pope. The 
new metropolitan might, by Papal grant, receive episcopal 
consecration from the bishops of the province or some neigh- 
bouring archbishop, according to precedent or necessity, but 
he could not enter on the exercise of his office as metro- 
politan — that is, claim the ordination of the bishops of his 
province, or call them to his synod, or sit upon the archi- 
episcopal throne — till he had obtained the Papal confirmation, 
which was granted at his petition by the delivery to him of 
the pallium, the badge of the metropolitan dignity, to be 
worn by him only during the celebration of mass and in the 
discharge of his duties as metropolitan.^ Thus by the re- 
ception of the pallium when he first entered on the oflSce 
of metropolitan, and the obligation of wearing it as often as 
he exercised that office, he was constantly reminded of his 
subordination in dignity and authority to him from whom he 
had received it. 

For more than two centuries it would appear that the 
archbishops were spared the fatigue of the journey to Eome 
for the pallium, which was forwarded to them by their own 
messengers, but then it began to be required that the 
metropolitan should receive it in person from the Pope. 

^ See Montalambert, v. 108, for the action of Egbert with St Gregory II. 
' Lingaid, i. 107. 



Canute the Great, in bis pilgrimage to Rome, had to plead 
earnestly with the Pope that his metropolitans, coming with 
personal attendance for the pallium, might be dispensed 
with costly gifts for its attainment. 

The preservation of worship and the observance of dis- 
cipline were always considered by the Popes as the mo6t 
important of their duties. Thus as early as 68o Pope 
Agatho had summoned Archbishop Theodore and his snffin- 
gans to attend a Council at Rome for the condemnation of 
the Monothelite heresy. As they pleaded for absence, the 
Pope consented to accept a public profession of their faith. 
John, the Abbot of St. Martin's at Rome, was selected as 
deputy. Theodore and his suffragans assembled at Hat- 
field, and declared their adhesion to the decrees of the five 
first General Councils, and to the condemnation of the 
heresy by Pope Martin I., and the Abbot John forwarded 
the copy of their acts to Rome. 

As the first conversion of England was brought aboot by 
a band of monks coming from Rome by commission of the 
Pope, so the part in the winning of the country to the 
Christian faith during the succeeding century very largely 
belongs to the monastic institute. A great change had 
passed over this institute in the interval which had taken 
place between the time of St. Antony and that of St 
Augustine bringing the gospel to the Anglo-Saxons. " The 
solitary of the desert had become the inmate of a nnmeroos 
establishment, and the lay recluse, earning a scanty sub- 
sistence with the labour of his hands, had been transformed 
into a cleric actually discharging, or preparing himself to 
discharge, the duties of the priesthood. He was still with- 
drawn from secular pursuits, but he was made serviceable 
to others. He was become an active minister of religion, 
and was able not only to edify the world by his example, 
but also to instruct the ignorant by his preaching, and to 
labour with the zeal of an apostle in the conversion of pagan 
nations." ^ 

^ Lingard, i. iSi. 



These are the words in which Bede concludes his History : ^ 
— "Thus have I, by God's help, drawn out what I could 
learn either from records of the ancients, or the tradition of 
those before us, or from my own personal knowledge, con- 
cerning the history of the British provinces, especially of 
the English people, being Bede, the servant of Christ, and 
presbyter of the monastery of the blessed Apostles Peter and 
Paul at Wearmouth and Yarrow. 

'^ I was born on the land of that monastery, and when I 
w^ seven years old was, by the care of relations, given for 
education to the right reverend Abbot Benedict, and then 
to Ceolfrid. I spent the whole time of my life dwelling in 
that monastery, and gave all my thoughts to the meditation 
of the Scriptures, and in the observance of regular discipline 
and the daily charge of singing in the church. It was my 
delight ever to be either learning, or teaching, or writing. 

" In the nineteenth year of my life I received the diaco- 
nate ; in the thirtieth the rank of the presbyterate, both by 
the ministry of the right reverend Bishop John, at the 
request of Abbot Ceolfrid. 

"From the time of ray receiving the presbyterate to the 
fifty-ninth year of my life, it has been my care to make 
short annotations upon Holy Scripture for my own need 
and that of my people from the treatises of the venerable 
Fathers, or to make additions to their meaning and to their 

He then gives a list of the works he has thus compiled, 
and closes it with these words : '^ And I beseech Thee, good 
Jesus, who hast so kindly given me to imbibe with delight 
the words of Thy wisdom, to bestow on me also one day 

^ Hist., p. 311. 


to reach Thee, who art the foantain of all wisdom, and to 
appear for ever before Thy face." 

Four years afterwards, being aged sixty-three, he knew 
that he was dying, and having almost finished the portion 
of St. John's Gospel which he was translating into the 
Anglo-Saxon tongue, ^' at the hour of none he sent to the 
priests of the monastery and distributed to them the incense, 
the spices, the fine linen, which he was keeping as objects 
of value in his chest. Then he made his farewell to them, 
and besought each of them to say masses for him. So he 
passed his last day until evening. Then the disciple attend- 
ing on him said, ^ Dear master beloved, there is one verse not 
written.' He answered, ' Write it then quickly.' The young 
man having done as he bade, in a few minutes said, ^ Now, 
it is finished.' And he said, ' It is true ; it is finished. 
Take my head in thy hands and turn me, for I have much 
comfort to look to the spot where I have so often prayed.' 
And so, lying on the pavement of his cell, he began to sing 
for the last time, * Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, 
and to the Holy Spirit ; ' and with these words he expired." 

Bede was bom in the year 672, that is, seventy-five 
years after St. Augustine's arrival in England. He died 
in the year 735. He became acquainted with all that 
passed in that first and most important period of the Anglo- 
Saxon conversion, which may be called its heroic age. He 
was near enough to St. Augustine to learn about him from 
those to whom the tradition of his presence and his teaching 
was quite fresh. With St. Theodore, who became Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury in 668 and died in 690, he was con- 
temporary. He bestows upon that prelate very high praise, 
noting how much he did for the multiplication of the epis- 
copate in the several kingdoms of the Heptarchy ; how the 
learning of the Greek and Latin tongues flourished under 
his encouragement and his example, and the schools which 
he established ; how all ecclesiastical learning progressed 
during his primacy, and England learnt practically to accept 
the leading of Canterbury as St. Gregory had intended ; so 
that, while the various kingdoms still subsisted, the uni- 
fication of the whole country was greatly helped by St. 
Theodore's mission, which itself sprung from Pope Yitalian's 


careful choice of him to meet the wants of the time and land 
to which he was sent. Bede began his labours as a historian 
when, at thirty years of age, he was ordained priest by St. 
John of Beverley, that is, in the year 702. During the 
thirty years which followed, he enjoyed personal intercourse 
with many whose information he has quoted in his narrative. 
Bishops of the South as well as of the North placed their 
knowledge at his disposal. He specifies Daniel, Bishop of 
Venta, that is, Winchester. Egbert had been promoted to 
the See of York, and received as its archhishop from the 
Holy See the pallium, which had been discontinued from 
the time that St. Paulinus had retired from Northumbria 
on the death of King Edwin. Egbert had also been Bede's 
pupil, from whom we have in the year 734, the last before 
his death, a most valuable letter to the archbishop concern- 
ing the state of things at that time. Egbert, who was 
brother of the King of Northumbria, the Ceolwulf to whom 
Bede has dedicated his History, would come to visit him at 
Yarrow, and Bede would pass some days at the episcopal 
monastery at York. Here he would find remembrances of 
St. Paulinus, and the whole history of St Wilfrid and of 
Northumbria, for which we are indebted to him. 

Bede's own life made him the very type of the Anglo- 
Saxon monk. In the thirty-three years of his priesthood, 
passed in the double monastery of Wearmouth and Yarrow, 
he became the most learned man of his time, the most 
intellectual person of his age and country. An Anglo- 
Saxon at the extremity of the world, this " father of the 
English learning — when we reflect upon the time in which 
he lived, the place in which he spent his whole life, within 
the walls of a monastery, in so remote and wild a country, 
it is impossible to refuse him the praise of an incredible 
industry and a generous thirst of knowledge. That a nation 
who, not fifty years before, had but just begun to emerge 
from a barbarism so perfect that they were unfurnished even 
with an alphabet, should, in so short a time, have established 
so flourishing a seminary of learning, and have produced so 
eminent a teacher, is a circumstance which, I imagine, no 
other nation besides England can boast." ^ 

^ Burke'a ** Abridgment of English History," p. 281. 


In Ms erudition he grasped all that was then known in 
the world. This encyclopedic character was what most 
astonished his contemporaries. He wrote either in prose 
or verse, in Anglo-Saxon or Latin. His works prove that 
he also knew Greek. Theology was his favourite study. 
He has enumerated for us forty-five works, dwelling especi- 
ally upon his commentaries and homilies on Scripture. St. 
Boniface said of him, '^ The monk Beda, that most sagacious 
interpreter of Scripture."^ But so far was he from restrict- 
ing himself to this his favourite study, that he wrote upon 
astronomy and meteorology, on physics, and on music, on 
philosophy and geography, on arithmetic and rhetoric, 
on grammar and on versification, on medicine also, and 
even orthography. Whatever could interest or benefit his 
monastic disciples he set before them in a catechetical form. 
But the master-thought of his heart was God, and in God 
the soul of man and his eternal salvation. He dedicated 
his History to Ceolwulf, king of Northumbria, saying that 
among all who had helped him, the greatest support of his 
" small work " was the very reverend and most learned 
Abbot Albin, who had been brought up in the church of 
Canterbury by Theodore, Archbishop, of blessed memory, 
and by the Abbot Adrian. Albin had been instructed 
either from written records, or from the tradition of those 
older than himself, in everything which had been done in 
the province of Canterbury, or even in the neighbouring 
regions, by the disciples of Blessed Pope Gregory, and had 
transmitted to him whatever he thought worthy of note. 
He had obtained instruction about the various provinces 
from those who had acted in them ; but as to Northumbria, 
from the time it had received the faith of Christ to his own 
time, he had learnt all which had passed, not from one 
person, but from the faithful asseveration of innumerable 
witnesses, besides what he knew himself. He particularly 
notes what he had said of St Cuthbert, and he ends by 
entreating all to whom his History might come of his own 
nation, whether by hearing it or reading it, to beseech the 
divine clemency for his infirmities of mind or body, so that 
each in his own province might remunerate him for his care 

* Quoted by Montalembert, v. 62. 


in what he had said of them by frequent acts of inter- 

Bede died in the year 735. St Boniface, bom eight 
years after him, in 680, was long his contemporary, and 
was martyred in 755, twenty years after his death. That 
glory of the Saxon race has lefb in one of his letters this 
testimony : " It seems to me right that the whole nation 
of the English in all their provinces, wheresoever they are, 
should return thanks to God for bestowing on their nation 
a man so admirable." * 

The History thus composed by a man of the most scrupu- 
lous exactitude, having at command the best information, 
and pursued as a religious task during thirty years, was 
received with universal assent. "Succeeding generations 
preserved it piously as a memorial of the virtue of their 
ancestors ; and about a hundred and fifty years after him, 
Alfred the Great translated it into the Anglo-Saxon tongue, 
for the instruction of those who could not read it in the 
original. To us it is an invaluable work ; for without it 
we should know nothing of the missionaries who brought 
to our pagan ancestors the light of the gospel, or of the 
manners of the clergy, or the worship and rites of the 
infant Church." » 

Bede had stored his mind with the records of the Universal 
Church. He was a teacher in a monastery which possessed, 
in his time, six hundred monks. His own position as a 
teacher, with the character of his own mind, had led him 
to acquire a systematic knowledge of Christian doctrine up 
to his own time. Thus he may be reckoned a father of 
the Church as to what had taken place before him. The 
bounteousness of St. Bennet Biscop had bestowed on his 
house a library most precious in those days of disturbance 
on the Continent. At the very moment when Pope St. 
Agatho, in 680, deplored to the sixth General Council how 
the misery of the times made it scarcely possible to pursue 
Christian learning in Italy, Bode enjoyed profound peace in 
his Northumbrian monastery, fortress alike of knowledge 

^ Drawn from bis Preface. 

* Letter 134, ed. Jaff^, quoted by Montalembert, v. 99. 

' Lingard, "Anglo-Saxon Cburcb," iL 176. 


and of religion. No half-taught beginner, but a practised 
theologian, he knew exactly what it was important to sa; 
of the Church of which he describes the beginning from 
the preaching of St. Augustine during the 138 years whidi 
passed to his own death. We have it drawn out for ns 
in such detail that a very learned historian and theologian 
of our own days could from its pages ** describe the Anglo- 
Saxon Church, its constitution, laws, and polity; its doctrines, 
sacraments, and daily services; the sources from which it 
derived its revenues, and the duties which it required from 
its prelates and working clergy ; the discipline and literature 
of its clerical and monastic bodies, and the events which 
chiefly contributed to establish and confirm its influence 
with the peopla" ^ 

Thus the picture which Bede has left us of the English 
Church in the seventh century enables us to compare it 
with the Catholic Church elsewhere at that time, from the 
direct mission of whose head it sprung, while it was coun- 
selled aud supported by his advice and that of his suc- 
cessors, ever fostering it and guiding it during that seventh 
century. Not only was the whole conception of the Boman 
mission to England by St. Augustine the special work of 
St. Gregory's tenderness for the Saxon captives, whose 
mental slavery in the kingdom of Deira was contrasted 
to him by their personal beauty ; not only did he answer 
its every need in solving the questions set before him by 
the archbishop whom he had sent, but his successors re- 
ferred back to his statutes with their own repeated con- 
firmation, and watched every pulse of the nascent Church. 

Bede has given us particulars of this continued guardian- 
ship by the Holy See of the conquest over paganism which 
Gregory had obtained. Some of these I shall draw from 
him either as a contemporary or an eyewitness. His His- 
tory is one great boon for which all generations of the 
English race are bound to thank the saint of Benedictine 

Another is that his book gives us the assurance that the 
Church of the present day, both in England and through- 
out the world, is in exact accordance, both as to doctrine, to 

^ Lingard, Preface, p. vi. 


practice, and to government, after the lapse of more than 
I 100 years, with the Church which his book sets before 
us. There is perhaps no extant writing from any other 
author which could give us this assurance in an equal 
degree. Nor indeed does any other nation possess a docu- 
ment so faithfully delineating the beginning of its Christian 
conversion. A beginning in truth it was in the fullest 
sense of the word, for in the 150 years from Hengist and 
Horsa to Ethelbert, the pagan Saxon had extinguished that 
previous Christian Church whose three metropolitans, by 
their appearance at the Council of Aries in 314, bore witness 
to their hierarchical union with Pope Silvester before the 
time of Constantino. 

How remarkable is the gift which Bede has bestowed 
upon the Anglo-Saxon Church by his History is further 
shown by a comparison with the historical deficiency of 
the Catholic Church as to its earliest records. A history 
written in A.D. 135, that is, towards the close of the reign 
of the Emperor Adrian, with the like detail and accuracy 
as that of Bede, by one equally learned and equally in- 
formed from the first hands, which should give the chief 
events from the Incarnation of our Lord to that time, 
would, if it existed, be of incalculable value. It would 
have told us the acts of the several Apostles and their first 
successors, the doctrines which they preached, the govern- 
ment which they established, authentic statements of the 
several countries which they evangelised, and so satisfy the 
most legitimate desire for knowledge on those heads which 
the Christian student feels. It would also determine num- 
berless points which the absence of adequate records allows 
either ignorance or ill-will to misrepresent. But the provi- 
dence of God has not permitted such a history to come 
down to us. It is true that two hundred years later than 
Bede's distance from St. Augustine, the learned Eusebius 
has given what is called a history of the 330 years before 
him from the birth of Christ. But this is far from reaching 
the accuracy of detail shown by Bede in his work. It also 
leaves on the mind rather a regret for the subjects omitted 
than a satisfaction with the treatment of the subjects which 
it contains. 


Bede has specially dwelt apon the train of events whidi 
drew the North of England into the Church.^ As a presage 
of the heavenly kingdom, a king of the Angles had obtained 
sach a dominion as no Anglo-Saxon before him bad reached. 
In the year 6i6, after a long time of exile and persecution, 
Edwin had succeeded Ethelfrid the Ravager. In the yetr 
625 he and all his people were alike pagans. The occa- 
sion of this race receiving the faith was that King Edwin 
sought an alliance with the king of Kent. This was Eadfaald, 
son of Ethelbert, who had become a Christian. To him 
King Edwin sent an embassy, asking the hand of his 
sister, Ethelburga, daughter of Ethelbert and Bertha. He 
received for answer that a Christian maiden ooold not be 
given in marriage to a pagan, lest the faith and the 
sacrament of the Celestial King should be profaned by the 
alliance of a king utterly alien from the worship of the 
true God. When King Edwin's messengers bore back to 
him these words, he promised that he would do nothing 
contrary to the Christian faith held by the virgin he sought ; 
that rather he would sanction her observing as a Christian 
the faith and the worship of her own religion, with all the 
men and women, priests, or attendants, who should come in 
her train ; nor did he fail to say that he would accept him- 
self the same religion, if, on examination with his Witan, 
he found it the more holy and worthy of Grod. Thereupon, 
Ethelburga was promised to him, and Justus, Archbishop 
of Canterbury, in the year 625, consecrated Paulinus, one 
of those added to the original band of monks, to accompany 
the princess with his companions, and " to support her by 
his daily advice and the celebration of the heavenly sacra- 
ments, that they might not suffer pollution from the society 
of pagans." 

On Easter Day the next year, 625, an assassin sent by 
the king of Wessex attempted to stab Eling Edwin while 
listening to him as a royal messenger. An officer, who saw 
the intention, interposed with his body, which was pierced 
through by the poisoned dagger, and the king wounded. 
That same night Queen Ethelburga bore him a daughter. 
King Edwin, in the presence of Paulinus, returned thanks 

^ Bede, ii. 9, p. 91. 


to his gods for her birth ; the bishop returned thanks to 
Christ for having at his prayer given the qneen an easy 
delivery. The king, delighted with his words, promised 
that he woald renounce his idols and serve Christ if he was 
given life and victory over the king who had sent that 
murderer ; and as a pledge he gave that new-born daughter, 
£anfleda to Paulinus to consecrate to Christ, and she was 
baptized on the day of Pentecost with eleven of the royal 
household. She was the first Christian of the Northumbrian 

But the Pope of that day, Boniface V., took a personal 
interest in this alliance of King Edwin with the Kentish 
princess, the daughter of King Ethelbert, which, says Bede, 
was the occasion of England north of the Humber receiv- 
ing the faith.^ In that year, 625, he wrote to King Edwin 
a letter,^ pointing out to him the admirable order preserved 
in the creation of heaven and earth by God, with the 
counsel of His co-eternal Word and in the unity of His 
Spirit, and the race of man, formed by Him after His own 
image and likeness, worship this indivisible Trinity from 
the rising to the setting sun, as his own Maker, to whom 
all kingdoms and powers are subject. " And your illustrious 
wife, that portion of your own body, we acknowledge as 
illuminated by the regeneration of holy baptism for the 
eternal reward." Then he conjures the king to reject the 
abomination of idols, quoting to him the words of the 
Psalmist, " All the gods of the heathen are demons, but the 
Lord made the heavens ; " and after marking the impotence 
of the images of these idols, he entreated him to accept the 
God who created him and who sent for his redemption His 
only Son. 

But Pope Boniface wrote also another letter^ to the 
queen. " Boniface the bishop, servant of the servants of 
God, to our illustrious daughter the Queen Ethelburga." 
In this he congratulates her that the mystical cleansing of 
baptism had made known to her the creation and the 
redemption of man and the manifold providence of God. 
He states his joy that the like had happened to her brother, 

^ Bede, ii. 9, p. 91. * Ibid, ii. la pp. 94-96. 

• Ibid, ii. lo-ii, pp. 94, 96. 


King Eadbald, bat that his charity as a father inqnirix^ 
after her illastrious hasband, found that he was still in the 
servitude of idols. Then he entreats her to work in time 
and oat of time by the divine assistance that her hnsband 
may be joined to the number of Christians ; for how eta 
the unity of marital intercourse be said to exist betwera 
them if he remained alienated from the brightness of her 
faith by the darkness of detestable error ? He reminds her 
that the husband without faith shall be saved by the wife 
who has faith, and that he will not cease by himself to pray 
for this. By his love as a father he begs her to send him 
information respecting her husband's progress and that of 
the nation subject to them, that he may render joyoos 
thanks for the divine power, marvellously shown, to God 
the giver of all good things, and to blessed Peter, the 
prince of the Apostles, from whom he sends a personal 
blessing in a silver-framed mirror and an ivory gilt comb, 
which she is to accept with the same kindness with which 
it is sent. 

King Edwin marched against the king of Wessex and 
punished his perfidy. He came back victorious, but would 
not on the spur of the moment, and without thought, receive 
the sacraments of the Christian faith; but he no longer 
served idols from the time he promised to serve Christ 
Since then he continually heard from Paulinus the grounds 
of faith, and consulted the chief of his Witan, whom he 
thought the wisest, as to what he should do. But being 
himself a man of the greatest natural sagacity, he remained 
often alone, thinking over in his inmost heart what he ought 
to do, and considering the principles of religion.^ 

This was the time at which the lettera of Pope Boniface V. 
reached him and his queen, Ethelburga. Paulinus was wit- 
ness of his long hesitation. He saw the difficulty for a 
royal mind to accept the humility of salvation and bend to 
the mystery of the life-giving Cross ; he was both using the 
words of human exhortation and having recourse to the 
goodness of God for the salvation of the man and of the 
nation which he governed ; at last it may be believed that 
he learnt from a divine intimation to ask the king to accept 

' Bede, ii. 9, translated. 


a token which he had formerly received. So he came to the 
king in one of those silent communings with himself, and, 
laying his right hand on his head, asked if he acknowledged 
that sign. The king fell at his feet, and Paulinus, raising 
him up, said, " See, God has given you to escape your ene- 
mies ; has bestowed on you the kingdom which yon desired ; 
will you give Him the third thing which you then pro- 
raised ? If you will bow to His will, which He declared to 
you by me, He will make you heir of His eternal kingdom 
in heaven." 

The king assented, expressing the wish still to consult 
the chief thanes whom he most trusted, that, if they should 
agree with him, they might be consecrated to Christ at 
the same time with him in the fountain of life. The con- 
saltation which the king desired took place, and Bede has 
preserved for us the very words by which it appears that 
Edwin asked from his Witan, one by one, to give each for 
himself a decision as to this doctrine hitherto unknown, and 
this new worship of God which was being announced to 
them. And one who is called the chief of the priests 
answered the king's appeal by complaining how little he 
had got by his own zealous serving of their gods. Another 
of the chieftains followed the same course, but added these 
words : " my king, the present life of man upon this 
earth, compared with that time which is uncertain to us, 
appears to be such as this : You, with your chieftains and 
officers, are seated at supper in winter-time ; a fire has 
warmed the room, while outside the whirlwinds of winter 
storms and snows are raging, and a sparrow comes in at the 
one door, presently to pop out at the other. For the moment 
that it spends within, the tempest touches it not, but when 
that brief instant of serenity is passed, as it came from one 
storm it reverts into another, and slips away from your sight. 
So this life of man appears for an instant ; but what follows 
it, or what went before it ? Of both we know nothing. If, 
then, this new doctrine brings us anything more certain, it 
deserves to be followed." So the other chiefs and coun- 
sellors were disposed to pursue this leading of grace. But 
the chief of the priests added a desire to hear Paulinus 
himself speaking of that God whom he preached. The king 


assented, and when he heard Paulinas, the chief of the 
priests said, '^ I have long perceived that what we wor* 
shipped was nothing, for the more intensely I soaght for 
the troth in that worship, the less I found it Bat now I 
openly declare that in this preaching that trath is evident 
which is able to bestow on us eternal life, salvation, and 
beatitude. Whence, my king, I propose that we give at 
once to the flames the temples and the altars which we have 
raised to no purpose." ^ 

So King Edwin, with his council, assented to the preach- 
ing of Paulinus; the priest himself mounted the king's 
horse, which was strictly forbidden, rode into the endosure 
of idols, cast his lance at them, and ordered them to be 
burnt. The spot where this happened is still shown at 
Grodmundham, near York, where the priest, at the prompt- 
ing of God, destroyed altars which he had himself con- 
secrated. And King Edwin, with his Witan, solemnly 
accepted the Christian faith, and, in the eleventh year of 
his reign, on Easter Day, the 1 2th April 627, was iMtptijsed 
at York by Paulinus, in a wooden church which he had 
himself hastily built. He made that city the seat of his 
episcopate for Paulinus, his instructor and bishop. He after- 
wards built, by instruction of Paulinus, a larger church of 
stone, enclosing the former wooden structure. This was 
the beginning of York Minster. 

From that time, daring six whole years. King Edwin 
encouraged with his support the preaching of Paulinus, and 
the Northumbrian race showed such fervour that, on one 
occasion, when the bishop was visiting a royal villa where 
the king and queen were residing, he was given up to the 
continuous work of catechising and baptizing during thirty- 
six days. And King Edwin was so devote to the faith 
that he persuaded the king of the East Angles to give up 
the worship of idols, and, together with his province, to accept 
the faith and sacraments of Christ.' 

In the year 634 Pope Honorius, who had succeeded Pope 
Boniface V., addressed a letter to King Edwin. As the 
letter of Pope Boniface was addressed to Edwin while still 
a pagan king, upon occasion of his marrying a Catholic 

^ Bede, ii. 14, closely followed. * Ibid, ill 17, p. 108. 


princess, and urged him to put away the worship of idols 
for that of the Creator of heaven and earth, so this letter 
was addressed to him recognised as a most distinguished 
son by '^ Honoriua the bishop, servant of the servants of 
God." He began by telling him that the ardour of his 
Christian faith in the worship of his Creator had shone far 
and wide, and become renowned in the world. ** You re- 
cognise your kingship in that, having been taught to know 
your King and Creator, you show your belief in God by 
devotedly worshipping Him. And so, most excellent son, 
we entreat you, with the charity which belongs to us as a 
father, with constant prayer to maintain that vocation to 
His grace which the divine mercy has granted you. Occu- 
pied, then, constantly with reading the works of him who 
was your preacher, my Lord Gregory of apostolic memory, 
keep the teaching which he freely bestowed upon you 
constantly before your eyes, that his prayer may increase 
your kingdom and people, and present you blameless before 
God. What you have asked me to ordain for your bishops 
I grant without delay to the sincerity of your faith. I have 
sent the pallium to each of the metropolitans, Honorius and 
Paulinus, so that whichever of them be first summoned out 
of this world to his Maker, the other, by this our authprity, 
may supply a successor. This we grant as well out of 
affection to your charity as because of the great distance 
between us, to show in all things our agreement with your 
devotion and accordance with your desire." 

According to this Pope's decree, as Paulinus had been 
consecrated by Archbishop Justus, so Paulinus himself con- 
secrated in the chair of St Augustine Archbishop Honorius, 
the fifth and last survivor of the original band of monks. 
But before the letter of Pope Honorius reached Eang Edwin, 
he had closed seventeen years of a very glorious reign,^ of 
which in the last six he had indeed fought for the kingdom 
of Christ, and falling as a champion in that service, he met 
with a death which the Church has considered a martyrdom. 
Two great persecutors of the Christian faith, Penda, the Saxon 
but heathen king of Mercia, and Cadwalla, the Breton-Cum- 
brian king, in profession a Christian himself, but in fact 

^ Bede, iiu 2a 


most bitterly hating Saxons who became Christians, had 
fallen together with a large army on Northumbria, and utterly 
crashed King Edwin with his smaller force.^ He fell on 
the field of battle, and Northambria was put to fire and 
sword, Cadwalla, sweeping through its provinces for a whole 
year, massacring and torturing both women and chUdren. 
His purpose was to efiace the whole race of Angles from 
Britain ; nor did he pay any regard to the Christian religion 
which had begun among them. Up to this moment, says 
Bede in 731, it is the Briton custom to count for nothing 
the faith and religion of the Angles, and to have no more 
communion with them than with pagans. The head of 
Edwin was taken to York, and afterwards laid in the church 
of St. Peter, which he had began, and which his successor. 
King Oswald, finished. It was placed in St Gregory's 
porch, from whose disciple Edwin had received the word 
of life. 

So great was the ruin wrought by the Briton Cadwalla, 
that Paalinas had to fiy with the widowed Queen Ethel- 
burga and her daughter Eanfleda, and to take refuge in 
Kent, and when Rochester had lost its bishop. Archbishop 
Honorius and King Eadbald invited him to that see. There 
in his own time he passed to the kingdom of heaven with 
the fruits of his glorious labour. Having worked forty- 
three years for the conversion of England, in that church, 
says Bede, he lefb the pallium also, which the monk of the 
Coelian monastery had received from the Pope of Rome. A 
full hundred years from the death of Edwin passed before 
that pallium, according to the original design of St. Gregory, 
was restored to the See of York in the person of Egbert. 

But in a short time Northumbria received another king, 
who, on the death in 6 1 6 of his father, Ethelfrid the Ravager, 
with his brothers and a large retinue of young nobles, had 
taken refuge with the Scotti. There he continued in exile 
during the seventeen years of his uncle Edwin's reign. 
Since Columba's apostleship at lona, the Scots and the Picts 
had become Christians ; ^ and there Oswald, with his com- 
panions in misfortune, had learnt the Christian faith and 
been baptized according to the Celtic rite. When, after 

^ Bede, ii. 20. ' Ibid. xxzi. 3. 


the death of Edwin, the tyranny of the Britou Cad walla 
had wasted North ambria, Oswald with a few followers pre- 
pared to attack Gad walla at the head of his great army, 
having first with his own hands planted a great cross, and, 
with a loud voice, called on his men to pray for victory. 
Up to this day, says Bede of his own time, the spot where 
Oswald raised that cross is marked and held in great vene- 
ration. The Angles in their tongue call it Heavenfield. 
There afler Oswald's death the monks of Hexham used to 
come to keep a vigil for him of many prayers, and to offer 
on the day of his death the victim of the sacred oblation. 

Oswald gained a great victory and slew Gadwalla ; and 
as soon as he obtained a kingdom, longing to gain for the 
Christian faith the whole people which he began to rule, he 
sent to those Scotti from whom he had received baptism, 
begging from them a bishop by whose doctrine and ministry 
the nation of the Angles which he was ruling might learn 
the gifts and receive the sacraments of the Lord's faith. 
And he shortly after received from them what he asked in 
the pontiff Aidan, a man of consummate gentleness and piety 
and mild rule, only wanting knowledge on one point, the 
keeping Easter on the right day ; for this he kept according 
to the custom of the Scotti of the North and the Picts, 
though the Scotti who dwelt in the southern parts of Ire- 
land had already learnt the canonical observance of Easter, 
at the monition of the prelate of the Apostolic See. 

King Oswald acknowledged Aidan as bishop of all his 
kingdom, giving him Lindisfarne, as he himself desired, for 
the seat of his see. We can scarcely doubt that it was love 
to the island of lona, from which he came, which led Aidan 
to choose another island, very similar in character, to be- 
come the spiritual metropolis of Northumbria. As bishop, 
he remained always a monk, not only in heart, but in the 
manner of his life. On this spot Bang Oswald ^ humbly and 
willingly listened to him, and sought with great care to 
build up and extend the Church of Christ in his kingdom. 
It was a fair sight to see when the bishop, not entirely 
acquainted with the English tongue, was at the work of 
evangelising, how the king with his chief thanes and ministers 

' Bede, iii. 3, 18 lines tranftlated. 



served him for interpreter, for in his long exile he hid 
perfectly learnt the Scottish language. Then day by day a 
number came from the Scottish region bent with great de- 
votion to preach the word of faith to those English provincee 
over which Oswald reigned, and such of them as were of 
sacerdotal rank, to administer to believers the grace of bap- 
tism. So churches were built in different plaoeSy and the 
population joyously came to listen to the word. PossessioDS 
were bestowed by royal gift, and lands were set out fbr 
monasteries. The yoang English had their first teaching 
from Scotch preceptors, together with higher studies and 
observation of the regular discipline. For most of those 
who came were monks ; Bishop Aidan himself a monk, as 
sent there from lona, the monastery of which for not a little 
time was the citadel of well-nigh all the monasteries of the 
northern Scotti, and of all the Picts, and presided over the 
government of their people. 

Aidan ^ was sent from lona in the time of Abbot Segen, 
the fourth from Colomba, with the rank of bishop, to begin 
an English province in Christ. This was his life, far re- 
moved from the slackness of our times. All who went ¥rith 
him, whether tonsured or lay, had to meditate — ^that is, either 
to read the Scriptures or learn the Psalms. This was his 
daily work, and that of all with him wherever they came. 
And if it happened, which however was rare, that he was 
invited to dine with the king, he went with one or two 
clerics. After a slight refection, he hastened to leave with 
his party, either to study or to pray. It was by force of 
this example that religious men and women at that time 
took the custom through the whole year, with the exception 
of the fifty paschal days, to fast on Wednesday and Saturday 
up to three o'clock. When the rich were in fault, he would 
never for honour or for fear pass it over, but corrected them 
with severe reproach. To the powerful in the world he 
would never give anything except the food offered them in 
hospitality, but money gifts bestowed by the rich he either 
gave away for the good of the poor or apportioned to ransom 
those who had unjustly been made slaves. Many whom he 
had ransomed, when, after their ransom, he had made them 

* Bede, iii. 5. 


his pupils, lie carried them forward by careful forming to 
sacerdotal rank. 

King Oswald,^ instructed, together with his people, no 
less by the life than by the teaching of a bishop such as 
Aidan, surpassed in power all his predecessors. He ruled 
over all the provinces of Britain which had four languages 
— the tongue of the Britons, of the Picts, of the Scots, 
and of the Angles. In the height of his power, neverthe- 
less, which is wonderful, he was always humble, kind, and 
generous to the poor and to strangers. It is said that on 
an Easter Day the bishop had taken his seat at dinner with 
him when a great silver dish with royal food was set before 
them. The bishop was just lirting up his hands to bless the 
bread, when there came in suddenly the ofiScer charged 
with succour to the poor, and informed the king that a 
great multitude from all quarters was sitting in the streets 
asking for alms from the king. Thereon Oswald ordered the 
banquet set before him to be given to them ; and not only 
80, but broke up the great dish and divided it into small bits 
for them. At the sight the bishop at his side was so struck 
that he seized the king's right hand and said, ^^ May this 
hand never grow old." His blessing bore fruit, for when 
Oswald had been slain in battle, his hand and his arm were 
cut off, and have remained hitherto incorrupt. In the royal 
city of Bamborough they are kept in a silver shrine in 
St. Peter's Church, and worshipped by all with due honour. 
It has been shown that the hand of the martyred king was 
so kept to the time of Henry VIII. ^ 

Now Oswald,* the most Christian king of the Northum- 
brians, reigned nine years, and was slain in a great battle 
by that same pagan people and pagan king of the Mercians 
who slew his predecessor, Edwin. He was in his thirty- 
eighth year. His faith in God and his devotion were con- 
spicuous by miracles, even after his death. In the spot 
where, fighting for his country, he was slain by pagans, up 
to this day cures of the sick, whether men or animals, cease 
not to take place ; nor can we wonder that sicknesses are 

^ Bede, iii. 6, translated. 

^ BoUandists, August, vol. ii. p. 87 ; Muntalembert, iv. 37. 

' Bede, iii. 9, translated. 


cared at the spot of his death, who daring his life ceased 
not to care for the sick and the poor, to give them ahns 
and to help them. 

It was the general report,^ and passed into a proverb, 
that Oswald expired uttering a prayer. For when he was 
ringed round with enemies, and saw that death was immi- 
nent, he prayed for the souls of his army ; and the proverb 
ran, " God have mercy on souls, as Oswald said in faliing.** 
His brother and successor, Oswy, came a year after and 
rescued his head and arm, which the savage Penda, the 
pagan king of Mercia, had set on poles ; the head he buried 
at Lindisfame, whence, with the relics of St. Cuthbert, it 
was at length carried to Durham. The Church has placed 
him among her martyrs, and for hundreds of years he was 
enshrined in the Anglo-Saxon heart as the very ideal of a 
king, a saint, and a martyr. 

On the death of King Oswald, who had ruled both the 
provinces of Northumbria, while, after a time of calamity, 
his brother Oswy took the northern part or Bemicia, the 
southern, or Deira, came to a prince of Ejing Edwin's 
dynasty, Oswin, who, like both his predecessors, Edwin and 
Oswald, had passed years in exile.^ Oswin was a man of 
majestic stature, of beautiful appearance, of agreeable 
address, of upright character, munificent alike to high and 
low; for his royal dignity in mind, in countenance, and 
merit he was beloved by all. The noblest fix)m almost 
every province flocked to him. Among many virtues his 
humility was special During his whole reign the monk of 
lona, Aidan, who had become bishop at Lindisfame, con- 
tinued to pass on foot over the two great provinces, stretch- 
ing from the Humber to the Clyde, which formed his 
diocese. He not only preached in the newly built churches, 
but went from house to house. King Oswin, when he came 
to his kingdom, was already a Christian. . He had not, 
like Oswald and Oswy, been converted by the Celtic Scots, 
but he recognised Aidan as his bishop, and, as well as 
King Oswy, lived in great intimacy with him. Bede, 
who was born about twenty years after both Oswin's and 
Aidan's death, has preserved an anecdote of the king and 

^ Bede, iii. 12. ^ Ibid, iii. 14. 


the monk which sheds a bright light on the character 
of each. 

Oswin had presented to Aidan a beautiful horse to aid 
him in the passing of rivers, or on any other occasion 
which required him to break his practice of going on foot. 
A little after the gift a poor man asking alms met him. 
The monk, leaping from horseback, ordered the horse, 
royally equipped as he was, to be given to the beggar; 
for indeed he was most merciful, cherishing the poor, a 
father of the miserable. This was told the king, and he 
said to the bishop as they were going in to dinner, " My 
lord bishop, why did you give to a beggar the horse of a 
king, which you were to keep for your own ? Had we 
not many horses less costly, or other things fit to give to 
the poor, without your giving that horse, which I had chosen 
for your special property ? " The bishop replied, " What 
are you saying, my lord king? Do you care more for the 
son of a horse than for a son of God ? " And so they 
went into dinner. Now the bishop took his seat, but the 
king, as they had come in from hunting, stood with his 
officers at the fireplace to warm himself. As he did this, 
remembering the bishop's expression to him, he suddenly 
ungirded his sword and gave it to an officer, and falling 
hastily at the bishop's feet, begged to be pardoned, " for I 
will never henceforth say a word about this, or pass an 
opinion how much of my money you give to the children of 
God." The bishop at this was much alarmed, and, rising, 
instantly raised him up, promising that he had fully 
pardoned him, if only he would take his seat and be 
cheerful again. The king, yielding to the bishop's request, 
resumed his joyful manner, but the bishop became so 
dejected as to shed a flood of tears. When the attendant 
priest asked him in their own language, which the king and 
his household did not know, why he wept, he replied, 
" Because I know that the king will not live long, for I 
never before saw a humble king. That is why I perceive 
that he will be shortly taken out of this life, for this people 
is not worthy to have such a ruler." 

But though Oswin was a man of distinguished piety and 
religion, Oswy, being of a rival though connected family, 


could not dwell in peace with him. Dissension broke out 
Each levied an army. Oswin saw that his force was oat- 
nurabered. He thought it best to yield and preserve him- 
self for better times. He dismissed his force^ and, with a 
single knight, whom he deemed most faithful to him, retired 
to the bouse of a count, on whom likewise he entirely relied. 
But the count betrayed him to Oswy, who sent and pat 
him to death, with the knight attending on him, who cho6e 
rather to be massacred with his lord than to take his life 
apart from him. It was a crime which struck general 
horror. This closed the six years of Os win's reign in 651. 
But he gained the crown of martyrdom ; and twelve dajrs 
only after him the Bishop Aidan, who had so loved him, was 
called away to receive the perpetual reward of his labours. 

Aidan had held the bishopric of all Northumbria, widi 
his See at Lindisfame, during sixteen completed years. 
He died at a royal villa, where he had a place to sleep 
in, leaning against the adjacent church. In this he was 
accustomed often to stop, and from it to go forth to his 
preaching on all sides. He had other like places in royal 
villas, for he had no possession of his own save his church 
at Lindisfarne and a few fields near it. They had raised a 
tent for him against the church, and here, leaning his head 
against the wooden buttress, he breathed his last breath. 
His body was carried to Lindisfarne and buried in the 
cemetery of the monks, and afterwards transferred to the 
right of the altar in a larger church built there in honour 
of St. Peter, with the veneration due to so great a pontiff. 

Then Bede, after dwelling upon various miracles which 
he attributed to Aidan, sums up his whole character in 
these words : ^ "So much I have said of this man's person 
and his works; not praising or choosing in him his im- 
perfect knowledge as to the keeping of Easter. That I 
much detest; but as a truthful historian simply record 
his deeds, praising in his actions what deserves praise, 
recording them for the benefit of readers — I mean his zeal 
for peace and charity, for continence and humility ; the 
mind superior to anger and to avarice, despising at once 
pride and vainglory ; the carefulness with which he fulfilled 

* Bede, iii. 17, p. 145. 


and taught the divine commands, his constant habit of 
study, his vigils, his authority, worthy of a priest, in refut- 
ing the proud and powerful, and equally in consoling the 
weak, his clemency in supporting and defending the poor. 
To put all in one word, from all which I have learnt from 
those who knew him, he took pains to omit nothing which 
he knew from, the Gospels or the apostles, or the prophets 
ought to be done, but to carry it out in act to his utmost 
power. This is what I embrace and love in this bishop, for 
this is what I am sure was pleasing to God." 

In 642, upon the death of his great brother, Oswald, 
King Oswy had succeeded to part of Northumbria, and 
afcer the death of his kinsman, so cruelly bronght about 
by him, he ruled the whole. He had by Aidau's counsel 
demanded in marriage that Eanfleda, the daughter of 
Edwin and Ethelburga, whom St. Paulinus had taken away 
after her father's death for refuge to her uncle, Eadbald, 
king of Kent. Thus Eanfleda, the daughter of Edwin and 
the grand-daughter of Ethelbert, at once a Kentish and a 
Northumbrian princess, became, like her mother, queen of 
Northumbria, and, like her mother also, wife of the Bret- 
walda In her husband's reign of twenty-eight years, from 
642 to 670, she was a potent and a beneficent factor. She 
did not rest until she had induced her husband to let her 
found a monastery and a church at Gilling, in atonement 
for that unjust death which he had inflicted upon St. Oswin, 
that in it perpetual prayers might be offered both for the 
slayer and the slain. Eanfleda had fostered Wilfrid ; it 
was by her counsel and her influence that in 648, at 
fourteen years of age, he had gone to the Abbey of Lindis- 
fame ; and again she had encouraged his wish at eighteen 
to go to Bome, and had sent him to her cousin, King 
Erconbert, to speed him on his way. From the time that 
her abbey at Gilling was founded, Oswy showed such a 
zeal for the propagation and strengthening of the Christian 
religion, that he was reckoned among the kings who had 
best merited of the Church. Since Penda, the heathen 
king of Mercia, had killed King Oswald, he had not ceased 
during thirteen years to attack and ravage Northumbria. 
Oswy had in vain oflered him all his treasures and jewels. 


Penda's wish was to exterminate the whole NorthnmbriuL 
race. ''Since this heathen will not accept oar gifts," siid 
Oswy, " let us offer them to one who will accept them, to 
the Lord our God." ^ And he made a vow to dedicate to 
God, as a virgin, a daughter whom the Queen Eanfleda 
had just borne to him, and at the same time to give twelve 
domains to found as many monasteries. And so with i 
very small army he went to the encounter. It is said the 
pagan army exceeded his by thirty -fold; that they had 
thirty legions under most experienced captains. Oswald's 
own son, Prince Ethelwald, stood away from Oswy, and 
joined the enemy, who were going to fight against his 
country and his uncle, but kept apart to wait the issue 
in a safe place. The thirty leaders were almost all slain. 
The battle was fought by the river Broad Are, close to 
Leeds. Then King Oswy, to fulfil his vow in gratitude 
to God for the victory, gave his daughter Elfleda, scarcely 
a year old, to be dedicated as a nun, and supplied the land 
he had promised for twelve monasteries, which, giving up 
the study of worldly warfare for the exercise of the heavenly, 
should supplicate for the eternal peace of his nation. And 
Elfleda was taken to the monastery of Hartlepool, where 
Hilda was then abbess, who two years after built the mon- 
astery of Whitby. And under Hilda, Elfleda, that daughter 
of the king who was fourth in descent from Ethel bert, 
through her mother Eanfleda and her grandmother Ethel- 
burga, first learnt the regular life, and afterwards succeed- 
ing Hilda as abbess, became its teacher, until, says Bede, 
completing fifty-nine years, that blessed virgin attained the 
embrace and marriage of the Celestial Spouse. At that 
monastery, Elfleda herself, her father Oswy, and her mother 
Eanfleda, and her mother's father Edwin, and many others 
of the nobilitv were buried in St. Peter s Church. This war 
King Oswy accomplished in the region of Leeds, in the 
thirteenth year of his reign, on the 15th November 655, 
to the great advantage of both peoples. For he delivered 
his own race from pagan devastation, and, by cutting off 
Penda, their perfidious head, converted to the grace of the 
Christian faith the nation of the Mercians and of the 

^ Bede, iii. 24, p. 159. 


neighbouring provinces. Three years after Penda's death 
Oswy reigned over his Mercian kingdom and other southern 
provinces, and subjected almost all the nation of the Picts 
to the English kingdom. But Wnlphere, son of Penda, 
speedily recovered his throne, and married the Kentish 
Princess Ermenilda, great -grand -daughter of Ethelbert; 
she, as queen of Mercia, became devoted to the spread of 
the Christian faith, who in her widowhood became third 
abbess of Ely, succeeding therein two queens, one of 
Northumberland, the other of Kent. 

Pinan, another bishop ordained and sent by the Scotti, 
succeeded Aidan as bishop at Lindisfame in 652, and after 
ten years was followed by Bishop Colman. Of these three 
bishops, Aidan, Finan, and Colman, who sat at Lindisfarne, 
presiding over the Northumbrian kingdom for the thirty 
years from 634 to 664, Bede speaks ^ most highly, praising 
their poverty and continence. When they left, the only 
houses, besides the church, were very few, only what civi- 
Used life absolutely demanded. Money they had none 
besides their flocks. Whatever the rich gave them, they 
presently bestowed upon the poor. For neither money nor 
houses were needed to receive the great of the world, who 
never came to the church but to pray or to hear the Word 
of Grod. The king himself, when need was, came with only 
five or six attendants, and when he had finished his prayers 
went away. If they needed any refreshment, they were 
satisfied with the simple daily fare of the brethren. The 
whole solicitude of those teachers was to serve not the world, 
but God ; their whole care to cultivate the heart, not the 
appetite. Accordingly at that time religion was in great 
veneration. Wherever a cleric or a monk came, he was 
received by all rejoicings as God's servant; if he was met 
on a journey, they flocked to him, bending their necks to be 
crossed by his hand or blessed from his mouth, and they 
gave diligent heed to his exhortation. On Sunday they 
flocked to church or monastery, not for the body's refresh- 
ment, but to hear the Word of God. If a priest came into 
a village, its people soon met together, and were careful to 
ask him for the word of life. For priests or clergy had 

^ Bede, iii. 25, p. 16 1 ; iii. 26, p. 168. 


no other reason for visiting villages bat to preach, baptize, 
tend the sick, and in a word to care for soals. They were 
so far from all the plagne of avarice, that no one, except 
apon compulsion from the great of the world, wonld receive 
land and possessions for the building of monasteries. Sadi 
was the custom maintained for some time after this in the 
Northumbrian churches. 

But in the year 664 the question concerning the propa 
time of keeping Easter and the proper tonsare came to a 
head. Those who came from Kent or Gkral charged the 
Scotti with keeping Easter contrary to the custom of the 
whole Church. Even in Oswy's own royal hoase. Queen 
Eanileda, who had with her a priest keeping* strictly the 
Catholic observances, might with her special household be 
keeping the Lenten fast, while Oswy had already reached 
the time of Easter, rejoicing with his portion of the house- 
hold. The disagreement in Aidan's time had been tolerated, 
because while it was known that he could not keep Easter 
except after the rule of those who had sent him, yet in 
faith, in piety, in charity, he kept it after the manner of 
all saints, so that he was held in veneration by Honorins, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, himself. It touched also the 
two Northumbrian kings, since Oswy had been taught and 
baptized by the Scotti, knew their language perfectly, and 
was entirely in favour of what they maintained, while his 
son Alchfrid had for his teacher Wilfrid, who had learnt the 
true custom at Rome itself, and so Alchfrid knew that 
Wilfrid's doctrine should be preferred to all Scots' tradition. 
And had also given a monastery at Ripon, with land for 
forty families, which the Scotti, who first had it, would 
rather give up than yield their own custom, and Alchfrid 
had given it to Wilfrid as abbot, and then caused him to 
be ordained to the priesthood by Agilbert, who had then 
come to him from Wessex. 

So it was resolved that a synod should be held in the 
monastery of Whitby,^ of which Hilda was then abbess ; 
and thither came the two kings, Oswy and Alchfrid, father 
and son ; the bishops, Colraan with his clerics out of Scot- 
land, Agilbert with the priests Agatho and Wilfrid ; James 

1 Bede, iii. 25-26. 


the deacon, who had been under St Paulinus at York, and 
Romanus, the Kentish priest in Queen Eanfleda's household ; 
the Abbess Hilda with her party on the side of the Scots, 
in which also was the venerable Bishop Cedd, consecrated 
before by the Scots, who in that council was a most vigilant 
interpreter of both sides. 

King Oswy began by saying that those who served God 
together should keep one rule of living, and that all who 
were expecting one kingdom in heaven should not disagree 
in the celebration of the heavenly sacraments ; rather they 
should examine which was the truer tradition, and this was 
to be followed by all in common. Then he called upon his 
own bishop, Colman, to declare what was the rite he followed, 
and whence it had its origin. Colman answered that he 
had received from his elders, who sent him to be bishop 
where he was, the Easter which he kept, which all our 
fathers, men beloved of God, are known to have kept in 
the same way. And this way none should despise or repro- 
bate, because it is said to have been that which was kept 
by the Apostle John, the Lord's specially loved disciple, with 
all the churches which he ruled. As he pursued this strain 
the king called upon Agilbert to put forth the way which 
he followed, and the authority from which it was derived. 
Agilbert answered the king by requesting that his disciple, 
Wilfrid, the priest — as he was of one mind with himself and 
with all the others there present who practised the Church's 
tradition — might speak for him, as he would explain his 
sentiments in the English tongue better than he could do 
through an interpreter. Wilfrid, receiving the king's orders 
to speak, began : " The Easter which we keep I have seen 
celebrated by all at Rome, where the blessed Apostles Peter 
and Paul lived, taught, suffered, and were buried. I have 
beheld it practised by all in Italy and in Gaul, which I went 
through for the purpose of study or of devotion. I have 
found Africa, Asia, Egypt, Greece, and the whole world, 
wherever the Church of Christ is spread, through different 
nations and tongues, doing this at one and the same time : 
all but these and the accomplices of their obstinacy — the 
Picts, I mean, and the Britons, with those from the two 
most remote islands of the ocean, and not the whole of 


these, who with foolisli toil fight against the whole world." 
Here Colman spoke: "I wonder bow you will call that t 
foolish toil in which we follow the example of so great aa 
Apostle, who lay upon the Lord's breast, and whom all the 
world knows to have lived with the utmost wisdom." In 
answer to this Wilfrid went into a long discnssion as to how 
the rule of keeping Easter was followed, which it woald serve 
no purpose to quote, for the conclusion drawn by Wilfrid 
lies in the last words, when he addressed Colman thus : " If 
you aud your companions, having once heard the decrees of 
the Apostolic See — ^nay, of the Universal Church, and these, 
too, confirmed by the sacred writing— disdain to follow them, 
beyond a doubt you sin. For supposing that your fathers 
were holy, is their small number from the comer of a dis- 
tant island to be preferred to the Universal Church of Christ 
throughout the world ? And if that Columba of yours was 
holy and powerful by his virtues — who is also ours if he 
was Christ's — could he be preferred to the most blessed 
prince of the Apostles, to whom the Lord said, * Thou art 
Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the 
gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and to thee will I 
give the keys of the kingdom of heaven/" 

As Wilfrid wound up with these words the king said, 
" Is it true, Colman, that these words were said by the 
Lord to Peter ? " And he said, " It is true, king." The 
king replied, " Can you produce any word of such power 
given to your Columba ? " To which he said, " Nothing." 
The king rejoined, " Both of you agree without dispute that 
these words were specially said to Peter, and the keys of 
the kingdom of heaven were given him by the Lord ? " 
They replied, " Yes, certainly." And he thus concluded : 
'' And I say unto you, that this is that doorkeeper whom 
I will not contradict, but, so far as I have knowledge and 
strength, I desire in all things to obey his statutes, lest, 
when I come to the door of the kingdom of heaven, there be 
no one to open to me, if he turn away who is admitted to 
hold the keys." 

These words of the king found favour with those who 
were sitting beside him, or standing, the greater with 
the less. They declined the less perfect institution, and 


hastened to transfer themselves to what they had learnt to 
be better. 

In this Council Wilfrid appears as the champion of Catholic 
doctrine and custom, to which the king of Northumbria, 
who was likewise the Bretwalda of the Saxon confederation, 
and had originally been brought up at lona under the Celtic 
customs, bowed his head with a decision so emphatic that 
the Celtic bishop retired from Lindisfame. Bishop Col- 
man/ seeing his teaching slighted and his party disregarded, 
returned to lona, taking with him those who chose to fol- 
low him — that is, those who refused to accept the Catholic 
time of keeping Easter, and the Boman tonsure. There 
he meant to consider what course to take. This question 
was raised in the year of the Lord's Incarnation 664, the 
twenty-second year of King Oswy's reign, the thirtieth of 
the Scottish episcopate in an English province, of which 
Aidan counted seventeen, Finan ten and Colman three 

Wilfrid by birth belonged to the highest Northumbrian 
nobility. He was bom in 634, just after the untimely 
death of King Edwin had seemed to bring irreparable dis- 
aster on the Roman mission in the North of England. Bede,^ 
being his junior by thirty-eight years, and engaged in study 
and writing during the last eighteen years of his episcopate, 
which he also survived for twenty-five years after Wilfrid's 
death in 709, came to know him intimately, and records 
that he was a youth of kindly disposition, whose character 
surpassed his age — so modest and so circumspect in all his 
conduct, that he was beloved, respected, and cherished by 
those older than himself as if he were one of them. He 
had lost in infancy a very pious mother ; his father had 
married again. At thirteen years of age he preferred the 
monastic to the secular life. For that he needed not only 
his father's consent, but that of King Oswy, the chief of his 
nation. As a noble young Anglo-Saxon, he obtained from 
his father complete armour and a train of servants fit to 
present himself before the king. At the court he was pre- 
sented by his friends to the queen, that Eanfieda, the daughter 
of King Edwin, and Queen Ethelburga, who in her baptism 

* Bede, iiL 26, p. 167. * Bede, iii. 28, p. 172. 


in 626 became the first fruit of the Christian faith in tiie 
Northumbrian people. She was herself to bear that Elfleda 
— consecrated by Oswy before his great victory — the fixtnw 
Abbess of Whitby, where, in her widowhood, Eanfleda her> 
self became a nun under her daughter. Wilfrid, the boj 
of thirteen, was of noble and striking aspect and of keen 
intellect. When he expressed to the queen his wish, she 
obtained from her husband the permission that he shoald 
quit the military service and enter the religious Ufa She 
intrusted him to a special friend of King Oswy/ an old 
warrior who cherished himself a desire for the cloistral life, 
and under such guidance sent him to Lindisfame, at that 
time., in 647, the seat of Bishop Aidan, and the great 
monastic establishment of Northumbria There Wilfrid, 
delivering himself up to the service of the monks, care- 
fully studied to know and to practise all that belonged to 
monastic chastity and piety ; ^ and being of sharp intellect, 
he very quickly learnt the psalms and certain books. He 
was not yet tonsured, but was marked out in no slight 
degree by the virtues of humility and obedience, which are 
more than tonsures ; and for these both his elders and those 
of the same age cherished him with deserved affection. 
Now this youth of sagacious mind, while serving God during 
several years in this monastery, by degrees perceived that 
the way of virtue handed down by the Scotch was by no 
means perfect, and he mentally purposed to go to Rome, 
and to see what ecclesiastical or monastic rites were observed 
at the Apostolic See. Referring this purpose to the brethren, 
they praised it ami encouraged him to effect it. Thereupon 
he went straight to Queen Eanfieda, as he was known to 
her, and by her advice and influence had been placed in that 
monastery, and he told her of his desire to visit the apos- 
tolic threshold. She, delighted at his purpose, sent him to 
Kent to her cousin. King Ereombert, with the request to 
forward him with honour to Rome. It was in the time of 
Archbishop Honorius, one of blessed Pope Gregory's disciples, 
a man instructed in the very depth of church matters. While 
this quick-minded youth was carefully lear^ing what he was 
examining, another youth of the English nobility, named 

* MoDtalembert, iv. 157. - Bede, v. 19. 


Biscop, and sumamed Bennet, joined him there, with the 
same desire to see Bome. 

His biographer, Eddius, notes that this desire to see 
Rome, which arose in the heart of Wilfrid studying at 
Lindisfarne under Celtic teachers, was the first time that it 
was kindled in a Saxon mind. Before the end of this 
century it became the chosen pilgrimage of the race, whose 
kings and queens sought to be buried under the shadow of 
St. Peter's, as Ina founded a Saxon quarter in Bome. 

Wilfrid, coming to Canterbury in his opening manhood 
of eighteen, with the good word of Queen Eanfleda, was 
treated with great affection by King Ereombert. He kept 
him nearly a year, but at length sent him forward to Rome 
in company with Bennet Biscop, who was somewhat older, 
and more austere than himself. They journeyed together 
to Lyons, when Biscop went on at once to Rome. But 
Wilfrid was kept by the Archbishop,^ who was charmed by 
the prudent language of the youth, by the grace of his beau- 
tiful countenance, his quickness of action, his consistency and 
ripeness of thought, so that he gave to him and his com- 
panions, so long as they were with him, everything which 
he wanted in abundance. For reading in his tranquil face 
the blessedness of his mind, he said to him,^ ** If you will 
remain with me, I will give you a neighbouring part of Gaul 
to govern, with the virgin daughter of my brother for wife, 
and I will hold you for an adopted son." But Wilfrid re- 
plied, " I have made a vow. Like Abraham, I have left my 
home and my father's house to visit the Apostolic See, and 
there to learn the rules of ecclesiastical discipline for the 
advantage of my nation, but, if God will permit, I will return 
this way and see you again." 

Wilfrid went on his way,* with all his train, abundantly 
supplied by the Archbishop. When he came to Rome, he 
set himself to visit the churches, especially that church of 
St. Andrew * on the Coelian Hill, whence St. Augustine and 
his troop of monks had come forth to their mission in Eng- 
land. And there before the altar he besought St. Andrew, 
by the love of that God whom he had confessed in his 

' Bede, v. 19, p. 285. 2 Eddius, c. 4. 

^ Bede, v. 19, p. 285. * Montalembert, iv. 142. 


martyrdom, to open his mind, and soften the radenesB of 
his Saxon tongue, and enable him to stady, comprehend, 
and teach the eloquence of the gospel to the English natum. 
In his visits to the various churches, and the daily eagemeas 
of his study, he obtained the friendship of a very learned 
and holy man, the Archdeacon Boniface, who was high in 
the counsels of the Pope, and who instructed him carefullj 
in the four Gospels, the proper computation as to Easter, and 
many other things belonging to ecclesiastical discipline, which 
in his own country he had not been able to learn. Before 
he left Rome, Wilfrid was presented by Boniface to the Pope, 
who would seem to have been Eugenius, the successor of the 
martyred St. Martin.^ The Pope, informed of his journey 
and his purpose in coming to Rome, laid his hand upon his 
head and blessed him. 

Wilfrid, leaving Bome,^ returned to the Archbishop at 
Lyons, with whom he stayed three years; from him he 
received the tonsure, and was treated by him with so great 
an affection that he thought of making him his heir. He 
learned much from very learned doctors,' and no doubt he 
might compare the teaching and the discipline in this, one 
of the most leading churches of Gaul, with that which he 
had received at Rome from the Archdeacon Boniface. The 
affection of the Archbishop for him increased daily. Bat 
this was broken up by the cruelty of Ebroin, Mayor of 
the Palace, who caused the Archbishop to be seized, to be 
dragged to Chalons, and there put to death. Wilfrid, being 
one of his clerics, insisted on following him, and, against 
every entreaty on his part, to suffer with him ; " for," he 
said, " nothing is better than for father and son to die 
together and to be with Christ." While thus he was pre- 
paring himself for death, he was noticed by the captain 
of the executioners, who asked, "Who is that handsome 
youth preparing himself to die V He was told, " An Angle 
from beyond the sea, of the race of those who have con- 
quered Britain." And he ordered to spare him and let 
him go, for that nation of the Angles was then a great 

' Eddius, quoted by Montalembert, iv. 143. 

2 Bede, p. 2S5. 

^ Eddius, quoted by Montalembert, iv. 145. 


terror to many. And so, having buried his spiritual father, 
he returned to England, being reserved, says Bede, to be a 
bishop of the English nation. 

Wilfrid returned to England. At this time King Oswy 
had associated with his kingdom his son Alchfrid. This 
prince conceived a great affection for him, gave him large 
land at Eipon, enabling him to build a monastery there ; 
or rather, having given the land to monks of Celtic educa- 
tion, when they refused to celebrate Easter according to the 
Roman computation, and preferred to leave, he had trans- 
ferred it to Wilfrid. Thus Wilfrid, coming from Rome 
with full instruction in Roman doctrine and practice, was 
placed by the Prince Alchfrid, as king of Deira, in a posi- 
tion of great influence. He was abbot, but not yet priest.^ 
Not only did the king love the holy abbot, but all the 
people, noble and ignoble, counted him for a prophet, and 
the king, receiving a visit from Agilbert, bishop in Wessex, 
80 recommended to him the humility, zeal, fervour, good- 
ness, and sobriety of Wilfrid, that he ordained him priest, 
specially for the monastery of Ripon, "the king," says 
Bede, ** desiring that a man of so much learning and 
religion might be attached to him specially and continually 
as priest and. teacher." * This was before the Scottish sect 
had been eliminated by the decision given at Whitby ; but 
after that, Alchfrid, with the counsel and consent of his 
father Oswy, begged that Wilfrid, being about thirty years 
of age, might be consecrated bishop for him. So he sent 
him to the Gallic king,* who sent him to be consecrated to 
Bishop Agilbert, for Agilbert had left Wessex and become 
Bishop of Paris. And Agilbert, with a large attendance 
of bishops, consecrated him at Compifegne. While he was 
thus absent, King Oswy, imitating his son's industry, sent 
to Kent a holy man, Ceadda, brother of that Bishop Cedd 
who had been in the Council of Whitby. Ceadda was 
priest in the monastery of Lastingham, near to Whitby. 
But when they got to Canterbury, they found Archbishop 
Deusdedit already dead, without as yet a successor ap- 

^ Montalembert, iv. 150, from Eddius. 

- licde, V. 19, p. 287. 

' Abstract of Bede iii. 28, pp. 172-173, "to their own country.*' 



pointed, and Ceadda had to go for consecration to Ym\ in 
Wessex, who was at that time the only bishop in all Britain 
canonically consecrated. King Oswy had sent Ceadda to 
be consecrated as Bishop of York, and Ceadda, placed in 
the See of York, showed himself admirable botb in belief 
and conduct, while in pastoral work he set himself to yisit, 
not riding, but on foot, in apostolic fashion, towns and 
country, cottages, villages, and castles. For he was one 
of Aidan'a disciples, made afler his pattern, both in act 
and conduct, and he strove to bring np his own hearers 
according to Aidan's example and that of his brother Gedd 
And Wilfrid, now a bishop, for, it wonld seem, his monastenr 
at Ripon and for King Alchfrid's own household, broagbt 
by his teaching many rules of Catholic observation into 
the English churches. And so it was brought about that 
as the Catholic rule of life daily grew up, all the Scotch 
who dwelt among the English either yielded to them or 
returned to their own country. **Thus Ceadda at Yoit 
and Wilfrid at Ripon were ordained bishops of the Nor- 
thumbrians." ^ 

At this time ^ the most noble kings of the Angles, Oswy 
of Northumbria and Egbert of Kent, took counsel together 
what was to be done for the state of the English Church. 
For Oswy, though educated by the Scotch, had come to 
understand truly that the Roman was the Catholic and 
Apostolic Church. And by the choice and consent of the 
Holy Church of the English nation, they took a priest 
iifiined Wighard out of the clergy of the Bishop Densdedit, 
a good man and fit for the episcopate, and sent him to 
Rome to be ordained bishop, so that, having accepted the 
archbishopric, he might be able to ordain bishops for the 
churches of the English through all Britain. 

But Wighard, reaching Rome, was, before consecration, 
carried away by pestilence. In consequence. King Oswy 
received a letter to this effect from Pope Vitalian : — 

" To the lord our excellent son Oswy, king of the Saxons, 
Vitalian the bishop, servant of the servants of God. We 
have received your Excellency's welcome letter, reading 

^ Bed»i, V. 24, p. 310, in his chronology. 
' Ibid, iii. 29, p. 174, translated verbatim. 


whicli we recognise the pious devotion and fervent love 
which you have for the blessed life ; and since by the pro- 
tecting hand of God you have been converted to the true 
and apostolic faith, you hope that as you reign in your own 
nation so you may reign in the future together with Christ. 
Blessed then is the nation which has merited to have a 
king so wise and a worshipper of God, and not only a 
worshipper of God himself, but one who studies day and 
night to convert all his subjects to the Catholic and 
Apostolic faith, for the redemption of his own souL Who 
would not be delighted with such news ? " ^ 

Then he quotes to the king a number of prophecies fore- 
telling such conversions in all nations, on which he says — 

" See here, most excellent son, how it is clearer than 
the light prophesied, not only of you, but of all nations, 
that they shall believe in Christ, the Maker of all things. 
Therefore should your Highness, as already a member of 
Christ, in all things follow the pious rule of him who is 
perpetually prince of the Apostles, whether as to the cele- 
bration of Easter, or as to all things which the holy Apostles 
Peter and Paul have handed down. They, as two lumi- 
naries of heaYen, illuminate the world : so does their teach- 
ing daily enlighten the hearts of men who are believers." 

Then stating his regret for the death of Wighard, he 
says : " We have not yet been able to find, in accordance 
with the tenor of your letter, a man in all respects fittingly 
adorned to be sent to you for bishop, considering the dis- 
tance to be traversed. As soon as such a person is found, 
wo will send him with instructions to your country, that 
he may, by the divine help, eradicate from all your island 
every tare of the enemy, both by his word of mouth and 
his reference to the divine oracles." 

The Pope further, speaking of the presents received from 
the king through Wighard, mentions the presents he had 
sent to the king, and especially " to our spiritual daughter 
your wife (that is, the Queen Eanfleda), over whose zeal the 
whole Apostolic See with us rejoices, as her works before 
God are fragrant and blooming. Let your Highness hasten 
as we trust, to consecrate all your island to Christ our God. 

^ From Bede, iv. I, p. iSa 


For, indeed, you have for protector onr Lord Jesus Christy 
the Eedeemer of the hnman race, who will grant yoa all 
prosperity to multiply a new people of Christ, by establish- 
ing there the Catholic and Apostolic faith. For it is 
written, ' Seek first the kingdom of God and His jostioe, 
and all these things shall be added to you.' For He asks 
and has obtained that all His islands, as we Iiox)e, may be 
subjected to Him. And so we salute your Excellency 
with paternal affection, and constantly entreat the divine 
clemency that it may condescend to assist you and all yours 
in all good works, that you may reign with Christ in the 
world to come. May the grace from on high guard your 
Excellency in safety." ^ 

The choice of an Archbishop of Canterbury put by the 
two kings of Northumberland and Kent on Pope Yitalian 
cost him no little pains. He urged Adrian, an African 
abbot, excellently instructed both in monastic and church 
discipline, and an accomplished master both of the Greek 
and Latin languages, to accept it. Abbot Adrian, with 
great labour, excused himself to the Pope, and presented 
another whose age and whose learning fitted him, as Adrian 
thought, better for such a work. This was a monk from 
a neighbouring monastery, named Andrew, who was in the 
opinion of all suitable. But the state of his health was an 
obstacle. Adrian was further pressed to take it himself, 
and thought of an Eastern monk then at Eome, of mature 
age, for he was sixty-six. Born at Tarsus, with a perfect 
knowledge of everything which one who had to exert the 
whole discipline of the Church should know, and possessing 
both languages and spotless in his moral life. Adrian 
brought such a man, named Theodorus, to Pope Vitalian, 
who chose him on condition that Abbot Adrian should 
attend him, to guide him in making the journey, and to 
carefully watch that he should not, after the fashion of a 
Greek, introduce anything against the faith into the Church 
over which he was to preside." Theodorus had to be ordained 
subdeacon, and waited four months that his hair might 
grow sufficiently to receive the Latin tonsure. He was 
then consecrated by Pope Vitalian ou the 26th March 

1 Bede, iv. i, p. 178-179. ^ J bid, p. 179. 


66Sj and so in May Tie was sent with Adrian to 

They passed together to Marseilles, and then to Aries, 
where they gave commendatory letters from Pope Vitalian 
to Archbishop John, who kept them until Ebroin, Mayor of 
the Palace, gave them permission to proceed. Theodorus 
then went on to Agilbert, Bishop of Paris, where he was 
well treated and remained some time. He stayed also with 
the Bishop of Meaux, for the approach of winter led them 
to seek shelter where they could. While they were here, 
King Egbert learnt that the bishop for whom they had asked 
from the Roman bishop was in the kingdom of the Franks. 
Upon this he sent at once Redfrid, his ealderman, to bring 
him. Redfrid came, and, with Ebroin's permission, took 
Lim to the port of Estaples, where his weak health kept him 
some time, and thence he sailed to Britain. But Ebroin had 
kept Adrian through a suspicion that he bore some commis- 
sion from the Emperor at Constantinople to the kings of 
Britain against the kingdom of which Ebroin had the chief 
rule. When satisfied that this was not so, he allowed Adrian 
to follow Theodore, who, on his arrival, gave him the mona- 
stery of St. Peter, where the Archbishops of Canterbury are 
buried. For the apostolic lord had charged Theodore, on his 
leaving Rome, to give Adrian a place in his diocese, where 
he might fitly live. 

Bede says that Theodore arrived at his church the second 
year after his consecration, on the 27th May 66g, a Sunday, 
and lived in it twenty-one years, three months, twenty-six 
days.^ Presently he made a visitation of the whole island, 
wherever the Angles dwelt, for he was received and listened 
to most willingly by all of them, and disseminated the right 
order of living, the canonical rite of celebrating Easter, in 
which Adrian accompanied him and walked with him ; and 
he was the first of the archbishops to whom the whole Church 
of the Angles yielded obedience. But because Theodorus 
and Adrian were abundantly learned as well in sacred as in 
secular knowledge, they gathered about them a crowd of 
disciples, and poured forth daily streams of salutary doctrine 
to irrigate their hearts ; and, together with the sacred writ- 

^ Bede, iv. 2, p. 181. 


ings, delivered to their hearers instmction in the metricd 
art, in astronomy, and in ecclesiastical coxnpatation. A 
proof of this is that np to my own time papils of them 
survive who know the Latin and the Greek tongiie as well 
as that in which they were bom. Nor from the time thil 
the Angles came to Britain have there been happier years, 
for they had most brave and Christian kings, a terror to 
all barbarous nations. The wishes of all men hung upon 
those joys of the heavenly kingdom of whicli they had bnt 
just heard, while all who desired to be instracted in these 
holy lessons found masters ready to teach them. 

The chanting in church, which had hitherto been re- 
stricted to Kent, from this time began to be tanght through 
all churches of the English ; and except James, the deacon 
of St. Paulinus at York, -^dde was the first teacher of 
chanting in the Northumbrian churches, having been invited 
from Kent by Wilfrid, the first bishop of the English nation 
who learnt to communicate the Catholic mode of living to 
English churches. 

So Theodorus in his universal visitation ordained bishops 
in the proper places, and by their help corrected any usages 
which he found not quite perfect. Thus, with regard to the 
Bishop Ceadda, whom Oswy had placed at York, when the 
objectior^ of Theodore to the mode of his ordination was 
made, that bishop offered to discontinue his work. Theo- 
dorus contented himself with remedying his defective 
ordination. Ceadda, in obedience to his direction, was re- 
ordained, but he was removed from York ; ^ and as the 
result of Theodore's visitation, Wilfrid was acknowledged 
Bishop of North umbria. Ceadda had retired to his abbey 
of Lastingham, and Wilfrid at York was ruling the whole 
monarchy of Oswy ; and because it was the custom of that 
bishop to carry on the work of the gospel rather on foot than 
on horseback, Archbishop Theodore enjoining him, whenever 
the distance was long, much against his will, to ride, with 
his own hand, in zeal and love for his work, helped him to 
mount, for he had found him to be a holy man. Wulfhere, 
who had succeeded Penda as king of Mercia, entreated 
Theodore to give him Ceadda for bishop, and he became 

^ Bede, p. 183. 


Bishop of Lichfield, and as such he has lived for ages in the 
remembrance of his people. He is praised by Bedo as a 
pattern of continence, humility, learning, prayer, and volun- 
tary poverty, to whom he ascribes miracles. 

In 670 King Oswy died, aged fifty-eight. At that time 
he was so touched by the Roman and Apostolic rule of life, 
that he purposed, if he recovered from the illness under 
which he was suffering, to go to Rome, and there to finish 
Lis life at the holy places ; and he besought Wilfrid, as his 
bishop, to conduct him thither, promising to bestow great 
gifts on him. Thus Bede signifies that when Oswy's im- 
portant reign of twenty-eight years terminated in 670, he 
was in perfect union with Wilfrid as the bishop of all his 
kingdom. The King Alchfrid has disappeared from history, 
while Wilfrid appears to have found in King Egfrid a patron 
as devoted as the former prince, iind in Etheldreda, who had 
been Egfrid's queen for about ten years, a most munificent 
patroness, who had bestowed on him, to build a monastery 
and church, her own domain of Hexham, the dowry which 
her second husband Egfrid had bestowed on her, as her first 
husband had given her the domain of Ely. But her devo- 
tion to Wilfrid as bishop and guide of her life was great. 

Bede mentions another fact, telling greatly on the forma- 
tion of Christian life in England at the time of the Council 
of Whitby, in 664.^ " There were at that time many of 
the nobles and of the middle-class of the English nation 
who, during the sitting of the bishops Finan and Colman, 
that is, in the years 65 1—664, ^®^^ their island country and 
retired into Ireland, either for the purpose of sacred study, 
or to lead the life of continency. Of these, some presently 
bound themselves to a strict observance of the monastic 
rule; others prepared to go round to the cells of various 
teachers, giving their time to study. All these the Irish 
(Scotti) receiving with the greatest cordiality, supplied them 
with daily food without cost, with books also for their study, 
and with gratuitous instruction." Among them he men- 
tions two young noblemen of great ability, named Adilhun 
and Egbert. " The first had a brother equally dear to God, 
who also afterwards came to Ireland for study, and, after 

^ Bede, Ui. 27, p. 171. 


being well tanght, came back to England, was made a bishop 
in Lincolnshire, and for a long time most nobly gorenied tiie 
church. These two, Adilhun and Egbert, were together in 
the monastery of Hathmel, both in danger of death from the 
great mortality prevailing, which had strack down most of 
their comrades. Egbert had gone out from the infirmaij 
to be by himself, and to think over his past life, entreating 
of God that he might not die until he had made np for the 
past negligencies of his boyhood, or been more abundant 
in good works. And he had made a yow to live on in i 
foreign land, and not return to England; for besides the 
canonical time of chanting, he would daily recite the whole 
psalter for the divine praise, and every week pass a day 
and night fasting. His tears, prayers, and vows finished, 
he went back and found his comrade asleep. He began to 
sleep himself ; but presently his comrade woke np, and look- 
ing at him, said, ' brother Egbert, what have you done ? 
I was hoping that we should enter together into eternal life, 
but know that you will receive what you asked for/ He 
had learnt this in a dream. Adilhun died that night, bnt 
Egbert lived long after, became a priest, spent a life foil of 
good works, and died lately, in 729, at the age of ninety. 
I learnt what I have recorded from a very venerable priest, 
who heard it from Egbert himself." It was this Egbert 
whom Bede records to have succeeded in a matter in which 
every one else had failed. In the year 716 the monks of 
lona received the Catholic instead of their old Celtic rites, 
at his teaching. It was about eighty years since, at King 
Oswald's request, they had sent Aidan as bishop to teach 
the English ; and now the man of God lived there thirteen 
years, after consecrating the island with, as it were, a fresh 
dawn of union and peace; and on Easter Day, 729, he 
there died after celebrating mass, and the joy of that supreme 
festivity, which ho had begun with the brethren to whom 
he had brought the grace of unity, he completed, says Bede, 
with our Lord and the Apostles, and the other citizens of 
heaven, where he ceases, not to celebrate it without end. 

Bede considers it worthy of special note how the monks 
of the Scottish nation, who dwelt at lona, together with the 
monasteries subject to them, received, by God's help, the 


rightful keeping of Easter and the canonical tonsure. The 
father and priest Egbert, beloved by God, and to be named 
with every honour, came to them from Ireland. He had 
kept, it would seem, that vow of living in a foreign land 
which he had made in 664, when he was seventy-five, down 
to 716.^ " As a teacher he won hearts, while he was most 
devoted in executing what he taught. He was most joy- 
ously welcomed at lona, and by his words succeeded in 
changing that tradition which had come to them from their 
fathera Of this tradition it may be said in the Apostle's 
language, they had * a zeal of God, but not according to 
knowledge.' And Egbert taught them the celebration of 
the chief solemnity in the Catholic and Apostolic manner 
nnder the figure of a continuous crown, alluding in these 
words to the Eoman tonsure, which he taught them to 
accept ; and it is evident that this took place by a wonderful 
dispensation of goodness, that because that nation freely, 
and without grudging, took the pains to communicate to 
the English nation the knowledge of God which it possessed 
itself, it also afterwards reached the perfect rule of life in 
those things in which it had been deficient by the English 
nation. Whereas, on the contrary, the British who refused 
to unfold to the English that knowledge of the Christian 
faith which they possessed, after the English people were 
already believing, and had in all things the rule of the 
Catholic faith, continue inveterate and halting in their steps, 
and show their heads without a crown, and venerate Christ's 
solemnities without the society of Christ's Church." It may 
be added that Wilfrid pleaded this cause at the Council of 
Whitby in 664, before the Bretwalda of the English, 
whom he convinced ; and that an English pilgrim from 
Ireland, seven years after Wilfrid's death, in 716, was 
the person ordained to restore lona and its monasteries 
to unity. 

After the first visitation of the English dioceses by Arch- 
bishop Theodore came the first Council. The king of North - 
nmbria, Oswy, the great Bretwalda, preparing to make a 
pilgrimage to Eome, died, and left his son Egbert heir to 
his kingdom. 2 In Egbert's third year Theodore convoked 

* Bede, v. 22, p. 303. ' Ibid, iv, 5, p. 189. 


a council of bishops, together with those many teachen of 
the Cbnrch who both knew and loved the canonical statnta 
of the Fathers. When assembled, he set befoTe them, for 
strict observance, with such a mind as became a pontiff, all 
that concerned the unity of the Church's peace. This is tlie 
text of the synodical action : — 

" In the name of our Lord God and Savionr Jesas Christ, 
the same Lord reigning for ever and governing His Church. 
It pleased us to meet according to the sacred canons, for the 
purpose of considering matters necessary to the Church. 
We met on the 24th of September in the place called Hert- 
ford. I, Theodore, however unworthy, named by the Apos- 
tolic See Bishop of the church of Canterbury ; our brother 
in the episcopate, Bisi, Bishop of the East Anglians; oar 
brother in the episcopate, Wilfrid, Bishop of the Northum- 
brians, was present by his deputies ; our brothers in the epis- 
copate, Patta, Bishop of Rochester, Lutherius, Bishop of the 
West Saxons, Winfrid, Bishop of the province of Mercia. 
When we had each taken our seats in order, I said, 'I 
beseech you, most beloved brethren, for the fear and lore 
of our Redeemer, that we all treat together what concerns 
our faith, that whatever has been decreed and defined by 
the holy and approved Fathers be kept stainless by us all.' 
And when I had finished this prologue, I asked each one of 
them, in order, if they agreed to keep what has been of old 
decreed by the Fathers. To which all our episcopal brethren 
answered, saying, * It is entirely our pleasure, all of us, with 
most willing and ready mind, to keep what the canons of 
the holy Fathers have defined.' I forthwith presented to 
them that same book of the canons, and from that book 
showed them ten headings which I had marked as being 
most necessary to us, and I begged that they might be 
most strictly received by all. 

" The first was, that we all keep together the holy day 
of Easter on the Sunday after the fourteenth day of the first 

" The second, that no bishop invade the diocese of an- 
other, but be content with the government of the people 
intrusted to him. 

" The third, that in the monasteries consecrated to God, 


no bishop may at all disquiet them, nor take away by force 
anything which is theirs. 

" The fourth, that monks do not pass from place to place, 
that is, from monastery to monastery, unless by leave of their 
own abbot, but remain in the obedience which they promised 
at the time of their conversion. 

" The fifth, that no one of the clergy leave his own bishop 
and go about in general, nor that he be received, if he go any- 
where, without commendatory letters from his own bishop. 
If, being received anywhere, he do not, when invited, return, 
both the person who received him and the person received 
be subject to excommunication. 

" The sixth, that foreign bishops and clergy be content 
with such hospitality as they meet, and that no one may 
perform any sacerdotal act without permission of the bishop 
in whose diocese he is recognised to be. 

*' The seventh, that a synod be convoked twice a year ; 
but because many causes hinder it, all agreed that we meet 
once a year, at the beginning of August, in the place called 

"The eighth, that no bishop ambitiously prefer himself to 
another, but that all acknowledge the time and order of 
their consecration. 

"The ninth, that many more bishops be made as the 
number of the faithful increases ; but we put off the present 
treatment of this matter. 

" The tenth for the married : that no one have any but 
a legitimate marriage ; that no one commit incest ; no one 
leave his own wife, except for what Holy Gospel says, be- 
cause of fornication. But if any one expel his own wife, 
joined to him in legitimate marriage, if he be a good Chris- 
tian, let him be united to no other, but remain as he is, or 
be reconciled to his own wife. 

" So these heads were treated of by us together, and de- 
fined, that no scandal of contention may arise hereafter from 
any one of us, or any other things be spread abroad by any, 
and it seemed good that every one of us, by subscription of 
his own hand, should confirm what had been defined. The 
statement of our agreement I dictated for our notary to 
write. Whoever, therefore, in any way attempts to infringe 


this our sentence, which is according to decrees of canons 
confirmed also by our consent and the sal:>scription of our 
hands, let him know that he is severed from every sacerdotal 
office and our society. May the divine grace preserve in 
safety us who are living in the unity of His holy Church." 

Bede in a solemn manner marks as an epoch the holding 
of this Council, which was coeval with his own birth. He 
illustrates such incidents as these. 

In the year 66y a monk of Tarsus happened to he at 
Rome. He was sixty-six years of age, still a layman, not 
knowing the English tongue. He was called forth by the 
successor of St, Peter, and received from him the commission 
to go to England as Archbishop of Canterbury. A few years 
before. Pope Martin had been kidnapped in his own Lateran 
cathedral, and carried a prisoner to Constantinople by an 
Eastern emperor, the patron of a heresy which that Pope had 
resisted and censured in a Council which he had called 
against it, and for this, after a series of outrages, he was 
martyred. Pope Vitalian, his second successor, consecrated 
the monk of Tarsus, and sent him forth, accompanied by 
another monk, an African, whom he charged to attend upon 
the new Archbishop. So the two monks, the first an Asiatic, 
the second an African, passed through France, and Egbert, 
king of Kent, hearing of their arrival in the kingdom, of the 
Franks, sent his ealderman to conduct the new Archbishop 
to Canterbury. The Archbishop, when arrived in England, 
appointed his companion, as soon as he was set free from 
his detention by Ebroin and had rejoined him, to be Abbot 
of St. Peter's monastery in Canterbury, as his bosom coun- 
sellor. He then held a visitation of the several dioceses in 
the Saxon Heptarchy, correcting whatever he found to be 
wrong. Thus, at York, seeing a defect in the ordination 
of Ceadda, he instructed that he should be re-ordained ; he 
established Wilfrid, whom he found bishop at Ripon, to be 
Bishop of Northumbria at York, and afterwards transferred 
Ceadda to Lichfield. He then held at Hertford, in 673, the 
first Council of the English Church, making provision for 
tho seven kingdoms as belonging to one Church. Thus 
Canterbury, by the hand of a Greek monk who was ordered 
to it by the Pope, fulfilled the place marked out by St 


Gregory in its institution seventy years before, and in its 
first century began to draw the seven Saxon kingdoms to 
the acknowledgment of one Church co-extensive with Eng- 
land, a great preparation for the absorption of the seven 
fluctuating territories in one indivisible kingdom. And so 
the hierarchy of St. Gregory was the corner-stone of Eng- 
land's unity. One monk sent expressly by a Pope laid it ; 
another monk, sent equally by a Pope, at the distance of 
one human life, built it up, attesting its unity with the 
Church of the whole world in the authority which he thus 
exercised, an authority bestowed upon him by " the servant 
of the servants of God," and acknowledged by the Bret- 
walda of the Anglo-Saxon confederation. 



Three martyr kings had contributed in no slight degree to 
ibis result. Bede has expressly traced the beginning of 
the Christian faith. in his own country, Northambria, to 
its King Edwin, while still a heathen Saxon, seeking a wife 
from the house of King Ethelbert. He had gained Ethel- 
burga, the daughter of the first Christian Saxon king, and 
of the descendant of Clovis, Bertha, on the condition that 
lie would treat her as a Christian queen with full enjoymeDt 
of the mass and the presence of a bishop, to sanctify herself 
and her household. 

Her daughter, Eanfiieda, bom in 626, became the first 
Christian of Northumbria ; and Edwin, of his own fall 
choice, after consultation with his Witan, was baptized with 
them at York by that bishop of his household, one of the 
monks who had either come with Augustine to England or 
joined him afterwards from the monastery on the Coelian 
Hill, dear to every English heart. Edwin was crowned with 
martyrdom, and the Christian faith which Ethelburga had 
brought with her was threatened with extinction in North- 
umbria, and the young Eanfleda was carried away by her 
mother, the widowed Ethelburga, for refuge with her uncle, 
Eadbald. The former queen of Northumbria, in her widow- 
hood, founded an abbey at Lyminge. 

But another martyr king was raised up for Northumbria. 
Oswald was brought back from his exile with the Scots. 
He had been taught by them the Christian faith, with the 
Celtic customs derived from Ireland. Oswald's first act 
was to plant a lofty cross with his own hand, and call his 
comrades to worship before it ; and the spot from that time 
became consecrated ground for English hearts ; and his 



second act was to entreat his educators, the monks of lona, 
to send him a bishop, that he might win his people to the 
Christian faith. In obedience to that summons, the monk- 
bishop Aidan came, and during the seven years of Oswald's 
reign, from 635 to 642, was the soul of Oswald's govern- 
ment. At the end of that time King Oswald also, like 
Edwin, was crowned with martyrdom, and the singular 
glory attached to his name was that the very moment of 
his death was expressed by the proverb, " God, have 
mercy upon souls, as Oswald said when he was dying." ^ 
He died at thirty-eight years of age, and his work seemed 
but half done. 

Then succeeded his brother Oswy, and a cousin of a rival 
bouse, Oswin, who divided Northumbria between them ; and 
Oswin's piety, valour, and goodness are described in terms 
which equal those given to Oswald. The monk-bishop 
Aidan was his bosom friend, as he had been of Oswald. 
They carried on the work of converting the heathen Saxons 
with joint forces. But one day, in Oswin's presence, at the 
banquet beside him, Aidan became sad and silent, and when 
his attendant remarked it, Aidan replied in the Irish tongue 
that Oswin the king was too good to live ; and in fact, he 
was put to death by the king who was his cousin and rival, 
as well as the brother of Oswald ; and the monk-bishop died 
but twelve days after the murdered king, whom he had so 
loved, and who had so much loved him. But Oswin in his 
short time had also gained the crown of martyrdom. 

And now in this historv, which is almost without a 
parallel as being the history of three kings, converts from 
heathenism, royal in their whole conduct, devoted to their 
faith, and martyrs for the faith which they had brought to 
their subjects, an incident ensued which crowns a great 
record with an unexpected surprise. Oswy, the brother of 
Oswald, gained, by the murder of Oswin, the half of North- 
umbria which he had coveted. But he had for his wife 
that Eanfleda, the daughter of Edwin and of Ethelburga, 
the granddaughter of Ethelbert and Bertha. From her 
very birth she was marked to bring a blessing : first of all 
to her father, for in delight at her mother's safety, through 

^ Montftlembert, iv. 32, quotiDg Bede, iii. 9, 12. 


the prayers of St. Fanlinns, he promised to leave idolatiT, 
and as a pledge of his promise intmsted her to Panlinu, 
and so she was baptized on the holy day of Pentecost, 626, 
the first of the Northumbrian race, together with ele?en 
others of her household. She also was the yonthfol qneen 
of Oswy/ the patroness to whom St. Wilfrid owed boUi hii 
education at Lindisfame and then again his first visit to 
Rome. She mourned over the death of a kinsman, which 
took place by the order of a husband, and she drew thit 
husband to consent to her founding a monastery and a 
church at the spot where his crime had been committed, 
that prayers might daily be said for the victim and for the 
slayer. That daily offering was heard, and Oswy's reign 
lasted twenty-eight years, and when he died in 670, he died 
with the desire to end his days at Rome under the gtiidanoe 
of St. Wilfrid. The youth whom his queen had singled out 
for protection was then bishop of all his dominion. The 
Archbishop whom he had sought from Pope Vitalian hid 
been chosen by that Pope and had been welcomed by him 
as Archbishop of Canterbury, was received in visitation 
throughout England, was giving England a standard of 
doctrine, and uniting its bishops as rulers of one church. 
And the reign of Oswy the slayer had been as favourable to 
the growth of the Church and the unity of nascent England 
as the reigns of the three martyr-kings, in whose honour the 
mass is still said. Of Queen Eanfleda it remains to say 
that she bore to her husband Oswy that daughter, Elfleda, 
who, at her birth in 655, was vowed by her father Oswy to 
God in gratitude for the victory over the heathen Saxon, 
Fenda. For Penda had slain both King Edwin and King 
Oswald, and for a whole generation persecuted the Christian 
Saxons of Northumbria. Elfleda fulfilled her father's offer- 
ing : she succeeded St. Hilda as Abbess of Whitby, and the 
mother, Eanfleda, closed the years of her widowhood as a 
nun under her daughter's rule. 

In that great host of noble Saxon women who became 
mothers of the English race, Eanfleda is conspicuous as 
daughter, as wife, as mother, as queen, and as nun. In 
her the Merovingian blood of Clovis, through her grand- 

* Bede, ii. 9, p. 93. 


motlier Bertha, was far surpassed by the blood of her 
grandfather Ethelbert, fifth in descent from the pirate 
Hengist, bat first Christian king of Odin's race, a race 
^hich, from the time of Ethelbert, produced more of both 
sexes who embraced the monastic life than has been given 
to any other royal honse. 

In A.D. 634 began the work of the three Celtic monk- 
bishops Aidan, Finlan, and Colman, invited by these 
Northumbrian kings to be bishops of their realm, and 
to convert their people to the Christian faith. Their see 
was at Lindisfame, the barren island on the eastern coast 
of Northumbria, chosen by Aidan and his friend Oswald in 
final remembrance, as it would seem, of that other island 
in the western archipelago of Scotland which once gave the 
faith it brought from St. Patrick to the sons of Scotland, 
and yet remains the burial-place of so many kings and 
chieftains. The three bishops carried on their holy work, 
loved, supported, and laboured with, by the three Northum- 
brian kings, Oswald, Oswin, and Oswy. Bede records them 
with unstinted love and admiration, excepting only certain 
Celtic customs, in which their strict foUowings of the tradi- 
tion drawn by St. Patrick from Rome, in his own time, led 
them to difier as to the great rite of keeping Easter. The 
better informed Apostolic calendar had established, in Bede's 
own time, a great and universal canon. But words can 
scarcely surpass the encomium which Bede pays to the self- 
denying tenderness of their charity, to the severity of their 
discipline, exceeding, in some points, that of the monks of 
Canterbury, to their apostolic labours in traversing on foot 
the entire district of their diocese, stretching from the 
H umber to the Clyde. In the thirty years from 634 to 
664 the holy life of these monks spread widely veneration 
for the faith which they brought. Aidan was ever a monk, 
not only in heart, but also in life.^ Almost all his fellow- 
labourers who came from Ireland or Scotland were monks 
like himself. All followed together the coenobitic rule of 
their order and their country. A hundred years after Aidan 
the system he had established at Lindisfame was still in 
full vigour. As in his time the bishop himself was head 

^ MonUlembert, iv. 22, quoting Bede's LiCe of St. Cuthbert. 



of the community on the island, or, if he was not, he renuuned 
subject, as monk, to the abbot's authority, chosen by tho 
community itself. The priests, the deacons, tlie chantera, 
and the other officers of the cathedral-church were all mon]& 

Aidan^ threw himself especially into the work of edoca* 
tion. From the beginning of his mission he drew to him 
twelve young Englishmen whom he brought np with tlid 
greatest care for the service of Christ One of them at 
least became a bishop. Every church and every monasteij 
which he founded became at once a school, wherein the 
children of the Angles received, from the monks who came 
with Aidan, an instruction pushed as far as that of the 
great Irish monasteries. On the purchase of slaves he 
bestowed chiefly the gifts of munificent Anglo-Saxons, to 
save those who, in Bedels expression, had been unjustly 
sold ; which means, probably, those who were not foreign 
prisoners, nor had been condemned to servitude as punish« 
ment for some crime. For the Saxons, and also the Celts, 
did not shrink from selling their brethren, or their children, 
like cattle. Aidan carefully instructed the slaves whom 
he ransomed, put them among his disciples, and often 
raised them to the priesthood. Thus the monks fought 
with barbarism and slavery. In that time of friendship 
between the noble Oswald and no less noble Oswin and 
Aidan, day by day fresh gifts of land, due to their gene- 
rosity or that of Northumbrian thanes, swelled the patrimony 
of the monks and the poor; new missionaries from Scot- 
land or Ireland helped on the work of Aidan and Oswald, 
preaching and baptizing neophytes. James also, the deacon 
of St. Paulinus in past time, remained at York. As a dis- 
ciple of St. Gregory, he joined the teaching of music to the 
lessons of religion, and was to the North a master of 
ecclesiastical chanting in the Eoman manner. 

King Oswald went to Wessex to choose a bride. In 
BO doing he helped to convert the king, her father, and 
became his godfather at baptism, while he carried off the 
princess Kineburga to continue his line in Northumbria. 
He had been powerful in the conversion of Wessex to the 
faith by thus supporting her king. 

^ Monta!embert| iv. 26^ translated. Eeferences to Bede^ 


But not only was the monastic life that institution by 
which the three monk-bishops, aided by the kings Oswald, 
Oswin, and Oswy, went on to convert Northumbria and 
Mercia; the noblest virgins of the Anglo-Saxon race had 
chosen that life with special predilection. Not martyr- 
kings and monk-bishops only have written their names in 
the Christian history of their country, but the daughters 
of Odin, as soon as they heard the name of Christ, the life 
of His mother, and the example of both, fell in love with 
the birth of Bethlehem and the house of Nazareth, and 
chose not the future of a Valhalla, but a heaven where the 
Virgin-born and the Virgin-mother shone the brightest in a 
host who served God in company with angels, and had 
aspired by grace to that unbroken communion with their 
Maker which belonged to angels by their creation as spirits. 
The honour which had not been wanting to the Teutonic 
women in that imperfect tradition of their original race 
wherein the preaching of Christ found them, led them to 
clasp eagerly the higher honour to be brides of Christ; 
and as the German marriage had retained a greater purity 
in the perpetual association and faithfulness of husband 
and wife than other yet unredeemed races, so the perfect 
following of Christ, which the virginal life opened to them 
in becoming Christians, drew them with a greater attraction 
than has happened to softer and less energetic races. Where 
in the Christian history do we find, at the very first con- 
version of a people, such names as Hilda and Ebba, Ethel- 
dreda and Elfleda ? Did not Ethelburga, carrying the faith 
to Northumbria, then left in early widowhood by Edwin, 
take refuge with her brother King Eadbald, and retire also 
from his court to found a monastery at Lyminge, being the 
first of Anglo-Saxon ^ women to take the veil, and where 
she finished her life ? The Saxon Penda, heathen persecutor 
and destroyer, fell at eighty years on the field of battle, 
true to his old character. But from him sprung favourite 
daughters of the Church, St. Kineburga espousing Aldfrid, 
king of Northumbria, but remaining a virgin, and becoming 
a nun, and St. Kineswitha, wooed by Offa, king of Essex, 
l)nt inducing him to become a monk, and St. Eadburga, 

1 Bede, p. 114, in note. 


Abbess of Dorcliester, while a foarth daoghter, Wilbu^ 
founded with her husband the monastery of Chertaej. 
Fenda's son, Merwald, ealderman of the Mercians, gave him 
three grand-daughters, St. Milburga, Abbess of Wenlock, 
St. Mildreda, Abbess of Minster, St. Milgitha^ nnn aft 
Canterbury. Penda's son Wulphere was king of Mercia^ 
and married Ermenilda, and both in nineteen vears of 
royalty did their utmost to convert their people. And 
Ermelinda in her widowhood followed her mother, Sexborg, 
as third Abbess of Ely, while her daughter Wereborga, 
another grand -daughter of Penda, was Abbess at Weeden, 
at Trentham, and at Hanbury, and finally succeeded her 
mother as fourth Abbess of Ely. Her brother, Coenred, 
Ermenilda's son, was king of Mercia in 764, and a monk 
at Rome in 709. Oswald and Oswy, each in his day 
Bretwalda, and great converters, by their personal labours 
as well as by their example, were sons of Ethelfrid, the 
Kavager, the heathen king who brought down an army 
on the Christians of Cambria, after they had not listened 
to St. Augustine, and slew the multitude of monks aft 
Bangor monastery who prayed for their people, bnt had 
never shown the least willingness to convert the Saxons 
who had taken Britain. Oswald and Oswy had likewise a 
sister, sought for in marriage by the Scottish king. But 
Ebba rejected his suit, and chose rather in the neighbour- 
hood of her brothers royal city of Bamborough, to be 
Abbess of Coldingham, to help St. Etheldreda in her flight 
from her husband when he recalled his permission to leave 
him. Ebba was the friend of St. Wilfrid, and powerful in 
her intercession for him to be restored to his see. Was 
not, in the sister of the two sovereigns Oswald and Oswy, 
the preference of the virginal life to a royal marriage an 
example which would strike all ranks of Anglo-Saxon 
maidens ? Was not her noble and holy life, at the head of 
a great sisterhood during thirty years, such a commendation 
in palace and cottage as might touch every heart ? She 
was the daughter of Ethelfrid the Ravager, and of Acha, 
the sister of King Edwin, and so united in her person 
the two rival lines which contested the double domain of 
Bernicia and Deira, making up North umbria. Her monas- 


tery of ColdingHam just reached the northern limits of that 
realm which her brothers won — in the part also which 
her nephew Egfrid was afterwards to lose, as Edwin, her 
uncle, had given his name to the capital of Scotland, which 
his posterity was not to keep. The Abbey of Coldingham 
and the Castle of Edwin — the Edinburgh of to-day — 
marked the bounds to which the dominion of the Angles 
then reached. 

Yet Ebba was not the only abbess of royal lineage. There 
was another great-niece of Edwin, who came back with 
him in 617, when her race was restored from exile. Let 
us hear what Bede, in part her contemporary, has written 
of her. 

"In the year of our Lord's incarnation^ 680, the most 
devout servant of Christ, Hild, abbess of the monastery 
called Streaneshalch — that is, the Isle of the Lighthouse 
— after the many heavenly works which she did on earth, 
was taken away from the earth to receive the rewards of 
heavenly life on the 17 th of November, being sixty -sir 
years old. If her life be divided into equal parts, she 
spent most nobly the first thirty -three years in secular 
dress, and more nobly consecrated the following equal 
number of years to the Lord in the monastic life. For 
she was noble too in birth, being daughter of King 
Edwin's nephew, by name Hereric. She also received, 
together with that king, by the preaching of Paulinus of 
blessed memory, the first bishop of the Northumbrians, the 
faith and the sacraments of Christ, and preserved them 
spotless even to the time when she merited to reach His 

*' Now when she determined to leave the secular habit 
and serve Him alone, she retired into the province of the 
Eastern Angles, for she was akin to that king, and she 
wished, if she could bring it about, to leave her own 
country and everything which she possessed, to go into 
Gaul, and to lead a foreign life for the Lord in the mon- 
astery of Chelles, in order the more easily to merit a per- 
petual country in heaven. For her own sister, Heresuid, 
mother of Adwulph, king of the East Saxons, was at this 

1 Bede, v. 23, p. 221. 


time subject in that same monastery to the regular do- 
cipline, and was waiting there for the eternal crown. 
Touched by her example, she too remained in that pro- 
vince a whole year, with the intention of foreign pilgrimage 
Then she was called back to her country by Bishop Aidan, 
and accepted ground for maintaining one family on the 
northern side of the river Wear. There, with very few 
companions, she led for one year the monastic life. 

^' After this she was made abbess in a monastery named 
Ilartlepool, which had been made not long before by a 
devout servant of Christ named Hein. This is said to 
have been the first woman in the Northumbrian province 
who, by consecration of Aidan the bishop, took up the 
purpose and the dress of a nun's habit. But having con- 
tinued not long at that monastery, Hein retired to the city 
Calcaria, called by the English Kalkacester, and there fixed 
her dwelling. Now Hild, the servant of Christ, was set 
over the rule of that monastery, and presently took pains 
to order it in all things by the regular life as she was 
able to learn it from learned men, for both Bishop Aidan 
and all the religious who knew her, on account of her 
inborn wisdom and love of the divine service, were wont 
carefully to visit her, to treat her with earnest affection, 
and gave her diligent instruction. 

"When, then, she had presided several years over this 
monastery, greatly intent upon the institution of the 
regular life, it was her lot to undertake also to build and 
set in order the monastery in the place called Streaneshalch. 
She employed herself actively in the work thus laid upon 
her. For she instituted this monasterv also with the same 
rules of the regular life as those with which she had governed 
the former one. She maintained here also a very strict 
watch over justice, piety, and chastity ; above all, over peace 
and charity. So, after the example of the primitive church, 
no one there was to be rich, no one in want, everything 
was to be common to every one, since nothing was the pro- 
perty of any one. Her foresight was so great that not only 
people of middle station sought counsel from her in their 
necessities and found it, but kings and princes also not 
unfrequently. She made her subjects so to study the 


reading of the divine Scriptures, so to exercise themselves 
in righteous works, that very many could easily be found 
there who were fit to undertake ecclesiastical rank — that is, 
the duty of the altar. 

" In fine, we afterwards saw five become bishops out of 
this monastery, and all these men of singular merit and 
sanctity. They are Bosa, ^tla, Ofsfor, John, and Wilfrid. 
Of the first, I said above that he was consecrated Bishop 
of York ; of the second, it is a short intimation that he 
was ordained to the bishopric of Dorchester; of the two 
last, one was Bishop of Hexham, the other of York; of 
the third one, we would say that he had devoted himself 
in each of the Abbess Hild's two monasteries to the reading 
and study of the Scriptures. Then, desiring increase in 
perfection, he came to Kent to Archbishop Theodore of 
blessed memory. After studying some time the sacred 
writings, he was bent also to go to Rome, a thing at that 
time esteemed a matter of great virtue. On returning 
thence to Britain, he turned aside to the province of Wor- 
cester, which King Osric then ruled. And there, preaching 
the word of faith, and also showing himself an example of 
life to those who saw and heard him, he remained a long 
time. Then the bishop of that province, named Bosel, was 
so infirm that he was unable to fulfil the ofiice of bishop. 
On this account he was by the judgment of all elected for 
the episcopate, and by order of King Ethelred ordained by 
Wilfrid, the bishop of blessed memory, who at that time 
administered the episcopate of the Angles of Middle Eng- 
land, for Archbishop Theodore was then already dead, and 
no one yet appointed to succeed him. In this province a 
little before — that is, before the man of God Bosel — a man 
of the greatest energy and learning and of excellent ability, 
named Tatfrid, was chosen bishop from the monastery of 
the same abbess* but was carried off by a premature death 
before he could be ordained. 

" But not only did this handmaid of Christ and abbess, 
Hild, whom all who knew her for her signal piety and grace 
were wont to call Mother, live to all with her in her own 
monastery as an example of life, but likewise served for an 
occasion of salvation and correction to a great many fai^ 


away whom tlie happy report of her iiidnstiy and virtoe 
reached. A dream was to be falfilled which her mother, 
Bregasuid, saw in her infancy. For when her hasband, 
Hereric, was in banishment under Qerdic, king of the 
Britons, where also he died of poison, she saw in a dream 
as if he whom she songht with all diligence was suddenly 
taken away, and no trace of him appeared anywhere. But 
after seeking him most carefally, she found suddenly under 
her vest a precious necklace. Gazing at it earnestly, it 
seemed to glitter with so great a brightness that all the 
comers of England were filled with the grace of its splen- 
dour. That dream was truly falfilled in her daughter of 
whom we are speaking, whose life presented examples of 
the works of light not only to herself, but to many who 
had the will to live well. 

" Now when she had ruled this monastery for many years, 
it pleased the kindly Provider of our salvation to try her 
holy soul with a long infirmity of the flesh, that, after the 
example of the Apostle, her virtue might be made perfect 
in infirmity. For she was struck with fevers, and began 
to be wearied with severe heat, and for six continuous years 
did not cease to suffer from the same trouble. In all this 
time she never omitted either to give thanks to her Creator, 
or to teach in public and in private the flock intrusted to 
her. For, instructed by her own instance, she warned all of 
the duty obediently to serve the Lord during the body's 
health, and in adversity or in infirmities of the limbs ever 
faithfully to render thanksgiving to the Loi'd. So then in 
the seventh year of her infirmity the pain turned inwards, 
and she came to her last day, and about cockcrow, when 
she had received the viaticum of sacrosanct communion, the 
handmaids of Christ in the same monastery being round 
her, she was urging them to keep the gospel peace with 
each other and with all ; in the midst of her entreaty she 
saw death joyfully, or rather, to use the Lord's words, she 
passed from death to life." 

Bede then goes on to speak of another nun in a mona- 
stery thirteen miles from Whitby who had a vision at the 
moment of her death. She was in the dormitory awake 
when she suddenly heard the sound of the bell which called 


tbe nuns to prayer, or to be present at the passing of a 
sister ; the house appeared unroofed and all filled with light, 
and while she was gazing steadily at this, she saw in the 
light itself the soul of God's servant carried to heaven in 
the midst of angels. She hastened to the prioress, who 
summoned all the sisters to the church to pray for the soul 
of their mother. While they were so praying the rest of 
the night with early dawn, brethren came to them from the 
monastery at Whitby announcing St. Hilda's death, which 
they said they already knew. They found that the vision 
corresponded to the hour. " And so by a beautiful union of 
things God brought it about that while the one witnessed 
her departure from this life, the other recognised her en- 
trance into the perpetual life of souls." ^ 

Bede describes the thirty years life of St. Hilda as Abbess 
of Whitby, which ran from 650 to 680, as a light to the 
whole land, which shone not only on those who lived under 
her rule or knew her by personal intercourse, but on a great 
number who only heard of her by report. His words convey 
incidentally the great dignity which in that first age of 
Anglo-Saxon conversion surrounded the quality of abbess 
and the virginal life. She had brought from Gaul tho 
institution of the double monastery, not only that of the 
female community in a house apart by itself, but of the 
male community in another house, of both of which the 
abbess was superior. When the Eastern monk of Tarsus, 
St. Theodore, became Archbishop of Canterbury, he knew 
not this discipline by his knowledge of the East, and did 
not approve it, though he left it standing, as having an 
experienced position. The rank held by abbesses was part 
of the special Anglo-Saxon veneration for women when seen 
in the light which a virginity consecrated to God bestowed. 
" We ^ are astonished at the crowd of neophytes of both sexes 
who spring from all the races of the Heptarchy to take the 
vow of perpetual continence. No one of the new Christian 
nations seems to have furnished so great a number, and with 
none does Christian virginity seem to have exercised a more 
prompt and sovereign ascendancy. Nowhere do we see 
nuns surrounded with so much veneration and clothed with 

^ The words of Bede. ^ Montalembert, v. 241-243. 


so undispnted an authority. The yoang Anglo-Saxoni, 
initiated at first in the cloistral life in the Gallo-Frank 
monasteries, which were prior in time to all those in Eng- 
land who had given themselves to God, had need to retam 
to their island to learn their own value in the eyes of their 

** The Anglo-Saxon conquerors looked with a tender and 
astonished respect on those noble maidens of their race» who 
appeared to them encircled with a halo unknown to them, 
of a supernatural grandeur, of a power at once divine and 
human, victorious over all the passions, over all the weak- 
nesses, over all the covetousness of which the germ had 
only been too highly developed by the conquest. Such a 
respect showed itself at once in the national laws, which 
concurred in placing under the safeguard of the severest 
penalties the honour and the liberty of those to whom the 
monuments of Anglo-Saxon legislation granted the title of 
the Lord's betrothed, the brides of God.^ 

" When one of these holy maidens found herself invest^ 
by the choice of her companions or the nomination of the 
bishop with the right to govern and represent a nameroos 
community of those like herself, the chiefs and the people 
of the Heptarchy recognised in her without difficulty all the 
liberties and all the attributes of the loftiest rank. Abbesses, 
for example, such as Hilda, Ebba, and Elfleda, had veiy 
readily an influence and an authority which rivalled that of 
bishops or the most venerated abbots. Often they had the 
train and the bearing of princesses, especially when they 
were sprung from royal blood. They acted as on an equality 
with kings, bishops, and the greatest lords ; and as the rule 
of enclosure seems not to have existed for them, they are 
seen to go everywhere as they thought fit. We may cite 
the appointment given by Elfleda, as Abbess of Whitby, to 
St. Cuthbert in the island of Coquet, and the festival to 
which she invited that holy bishop for the dedication of a 
church situated on one of her manors. They would be pre- 
sent at national and religious solemnities, and even, like 
queens, take part in the deliberations of national assemblies, 
and attach their signatures to charters which marked the 

1 It 

Godes Bryde ;" Thorpe's Ancient Laws of England, ii. iSS. 


result. The three-and-twentietli article of the famous laws 
or dooms of Ina assimilates in certain respects not abbots 
only, but abbesses to kings and the greatest personages 
of the land. In the Council of Beccancelde, held in 694 
by the metropolitan and the king of Kent, the signatures of 
five abbesses figure in the midst of bishops, after decrees the 
purport of which is to guarantee the inviolability of the 
property and the liberties of the Church." 

The name of Elfleda, the second Abbess of Whitby, is 
every way fitted to be joined to those of St. Ebba and St. 
Hilda. She came into the world at the time her father 
Oswy was about to win that great victory over the heathen 
Saxon Penda, king of Mercia, which finally turned the 
scale in favour of a Christian England. Before the battle 
her father vowed to give her as a virgin to the service of 
God, and to erect twelve monasteries — six in Deira and 
six in Bemicia. He went with a very small army against 
a great one. "They say," writes Bede, "that the pagan 
force was thirty times greater, but he trusted in Christ for 
his leader ; and the thirty dukes were almost all slain." ^ 
This was in the year 655 ; and Bede, in the year 731, 
sums up all the years of the Elfleda so vowed. That 
daughter of a king first learnt the discipline of the regular 
life, then became its teacher, until, having completed in 
715 the number of fifty-nine years— of which thirty-four 
were spent in succession to St. Hilda as Abbess of Whitby 
— " the blessed virgin reached her Heavenly Bridegroom." 
Thus Elfleda at her great monastery of Whitby was abbess 
and princess also, as Hilda had been, 

St. Bede marks especially the day of St. Theodore's arrival 
in England ^ as Archbishop of Canterbury on the 27th May 
669, and his immediate visitation of the whole island, 
"wherever the English races dwelt;" their cordial accept- 
ance of him and obedience to him, with the Abbot Adrian 
at his side ; his establishing bishops " in the proper places," 
and his correction of anything wrong. He notes also that 
Wilfrid had returned from his consecration at Compi^gne, 
and had ordained priests and deacons in Kent before and 
until the arrival of the Archbishop, St. Theodore's visita- 

* Bede, iii. 24, p. 159. ' Ibid, iv. 2, p. 181. 


tion ensued, and lie found Ceadda, by King Oswy's appoint 
ment, bishop at York, and following Aidan's mode of life, 
but the Roman customs. Yet he also found a defect in 
his ordination by Bishop Wini. Ceadda submitted entirely 
to him, offering to resign his work as bishop, but he con- 
tented himself with re-executing his ordination. Ceadda 
retired to his Abbey of Lastingham,^ and Wilfrid admini- 
stered the episcopate of the church of York, and likewise 
of all North umbria, as well as the Picts to the uttermost 
extent of King Oswy's dominions. It was the time when 
the primate, admiring the zealous activity of Wilfrid as he 
went over his vast diocese on foot, insisted upon his riding 
on the occasion, and helped him on horseback with his own 
hand. St. Theodore, also, at the request of Wulphere, son 
of Penda and king of Mercia, who had married the princess 
Ermenilda, daughter of King Ercombert of Kent, after- 
wards moved Ceadda to the episcopate of Mercia. There 
Ceadda lived at Lichfield with seven or eight brethren, 
with whom, when resting from the labour of preaching, 
he used to pray and study. The ten years following this 
establishment of Wilfrid at York by the primate was the 
time of his great prosperity. The king, Oswy, was only 
prevented by illness and death from going in person with 
him to Eome to visit Pope Vitalian, who had sent him a 
primate so welcomed by all men. Wilfrid himself was 
vigorously superintending his very large diocese. But his 
former friend. King Oswy's son, Alchfrid, had given him 
a large domain in land at Sipon, on which he built his 
Benedictine monastery, and over this he was abbot. At 
Oswy's death, his son Egfrid had succeeded him, and Egfrid 
had for ten years been married to the Queen Etheldreda, 
that East Anglian princess renowned above all of her day 
for her beauty, piety, and beneficence. Wilfrid had suc- 
ceeded in establishing with the new king, Egfrid, the same 
authority and influence which he had obtained in the last 
years of his father, King Oswy, and also with the former 

^ See the passage in Bede, v. 19, p. 237 : ** Ceadda, virRanctus, tribas annis 
ecclesiam sublimiter regens, dehine ad raonasterQ sui, quod est in La>sting«ei, 
curam secessit, accipiente Wilfredo episcopatum totius nordanhymbrorum 


prince and king, Alchf rid, who has disappeared from history. 
Moreover, the Queen Etheldreda considered him more than 
any one in his diocese. As a proof of this, she had be- 
stowed on him her dower lands, the gift of her husband 
Egfrid, at Hexham, on which Wilfrid built a monastery 
and church so costly and beautiful that it had the reputa- 
tion of being the finest structure north of the Alps, The 
land given at Hexham extended twelve miles in length 
by three in breadth. Here, too, he was abbot as well as 
bishop of Northumbria. The Queen Ermelinda of Mercia 
also was his firm friend, the near kinswoman of Queen 
Etheldreda, and afterwards to be her second successor at 
Ely. It was five years after Wilfrid's appearance at the 
Council of Whitby when he came into this great position ; 
he was then, in 664, thirty years of age. His eloquence 
and power of speech had moved King Oswy, the Bretwalda, 
in spite of his Celtic education at lona, to admit the 
authority which Wilfrid claimed for Peter as prince of the 
Apostles, and to declare that the doorkeeper of the king- 
dom of heaven should claim and receive his homage rather 
than those who had preached and converted so many in his 
kingdom by mission from St. Columba. Oswy had by no 
means disregarded the admirable life and example of these 
missionaries. They were monks of the most strenuous and 
self-denying discipline. They followed the rule of lona, 
but with a severity almost exceeding the rule which St. 
Augustine and those after him carried on at Canterbury. 
The effect of Oswy's decision on Wilfrid's pleading at 
Whitby was to lead Bishop Colman to give up his diocese 
and retire at first to lona, which some other missionaries 
would seem to have done ; but the greater part who had 
been instructed by them, as, for instance, Ceadda and his 
brother Cedd, would seem to have conformed to the Roman 
custom. Wilfrid is admitted to have been the first to 
establish in the north the Benedictine rule, and he was 
closely followed in time by St. Bennet Biscop, who Lad 
been joined by Pope Vitalian with the Abbot Adrian, and 
charged to accompany the new primate to England, and 
had afterwards founded his double monastery at Wearmouth 
and Jarrow by munificent gifts of land from King Egfrid. 


At the beginning of this time of great prosperity and in^ 
fluence Wilfrid would be thirty-five years of age. From 
his early youth the great impression made by his personal 
beauty and the grace of his address, united with a devotion 
which was proof against every trial, are dwelt upon hy 
contemporaries. The Queen Eanfleda, her oonsin King 
Ercombert, the Archbishop of Lyons, whose martyrdom Wil- 
frid tried to share, the son of King Oswy, Prince Alchfrid, 
the abbess- princesses Ebba and Elfleda, the qaeens Ethel- 
dreda and Ermelinda, the kings Oswy and Egfrid, are all 
recorded to have been won by the external dignity and 
the inward worth of a man whom the fervent eloquence 
of a great orator and historian has entitled "the eldest 
bom of an invincible race, the first Englishman." Indeed, 
in following as far as the recording history of contem- 
poraries will allow the long forty- five years of Wilfrid's 
episcopate, there is no occasion on which he can be found 
to have failed in duty, to have shrunk from trial, hazard, 
or self-denial, to have been a slave to vainglory or a victim 
to self-love, to have tried for increase of dignity rather than 
gaining of souls. The youth who shrank from marriage 
when offered with corresponding youth and a dowry of 
dominion because he had made a vow to serve St. Peter, 
sacrificed himself also to maintain in her resolve one who 
had vowed herself to the virginal life, and kept it in spite 
of a double marriage. He also carried with him to his 
latest breath the devotion of a number of houses which he 
had himself created and built up in the Benedictine rule. 
In these he had the double merit — one of establishing the 
rule itself, the other of attracting the individual members 
to it by the force of his life and example. 

St. Eiheldreda had been for ten years the wife of King 
Egfrid when he succeeded his father Oswy in 670. Egfrid, 
says Bede,^ was a very religious man, equally distinguished 
both in mind and act. Etheldreda had been married for a 
short time before, but she was wife of Egfrid during twelve 
years, living with him all that time, yet glorious for her 
unspotted virginity. " And Wilfrid, the bishop of blessed 
memory," says Bede, " replying to my own question, whether 

* Bede, iv. 19, p. 214. 


tLat was so, because some had doubted it, averred to me 
that he was certain of it ; for Egfrid had promised him a 
great amount of both lands and wealth if he could persuade 
the queen to live with him in conjugal intercourse. Nor is 
it to be doubted that even in our age such things have been, 
which in a former age faithful historians record now and 
then to have taken place, by the gift of one and the same 
liord who promises that He will remain with us to the end 
of the world." 

But the result of Egfrid's application to Wilfrid was that 
the great bishop learnt from Etheldreda that she had been 
married to both husbands against her will, and had kept 
herself faithful throughout to a previous vow of continence. 
She had often petitioned the king to allow her to retire from 
the world and pursue in a monastery the sole service of 
Christ, the true King. At length with great difficulty she 
obtained King Egfrid's consent, and went to the Abbey ot 
Coldingham, of which Ebba, the king's aunt, was abbess. 
There she received the veil of nun from Wilfrid the bishop ; 
but she was pursued by Egfrid, and after a series of mar- 
vellous escapes, took refuge in her own great property in 
Ely, on which she built a monastery, and was established as 
abbess there by Wilfrid himself. 

Thus, in the year 672, EtLeldreda, having been twelve 
years married to Egfrid, in the last two of which, after King 
Oswy's death, she had been queen of Nortlmmbria, had 
carried out her original vow, which dissolved her never- 
accomplished marriage, and Egfrid had taken Ermenburga 
for his wife. During many years after this event Wilfrid 
had his seat at York, making his rounds on foot or on horse- 
back over his immense diocese. He continued to set up 
monasteries, encouraging the Benedictine rule. These he 
made places of general education, in which everything was 
taught which was valuable for the life of that age ; so that 
the students might either serve God in the regular life, if 
that were their choice, or take the king's service as soldiers. 
They were taught music and likewise architecture, for which 
Wilfrid became famous. To his Abbey of Hexham he brought 
masons from Canterbury, or even from Rome. The whole 
conversion of the northern country during the thirty years 


of the three Celtic bishops, from 634 to 664, had been cod- 
dacted by monks, but from the Council at Whitby, in the 
last-named year, Wilfrid had prevailed in carrying oat tha 
Catholic custom, to which he had made the Celtic prepon- 
derance give way. St. Theodore at his visitation found 
nothing to complain of in their doctrine. Thus things went 
on until 679 ; but from the time that St. Etheldreda be- 
came abbess at Ely, King Egfrid appears to have taken 
more and more offence at Wilfrid. His wife Ermenburga 
stirred him up to continual jealousy of the wealth, influence, 
and vigour of Wilfrid, who was bishop over all his dominion. 
It would appear that St. Theodore in the year 679 was 
moved to divide into three the great diocese which Wilfrid 
during ten full years had administered by Theodore's own 
authority, given to him expressly by Pope Vitalian. When 
Wilfrid came back after a temporary absence, he found 
himself without a see. He claimed justice both from the 
king, Egfrid, and from the Archbishop ; but neither would 
listen to him, and he thereupon appealed to the judgment 
of the Holy See — ^that is, he appealed to the actual Pope, 
who was St. Agatho, against an unjust exercise of the 
authority which ten years before Pope Vitalian had con- 
ferred on the Primate whom he had appointed and sent to 
Canterbury. And this, at the distance of eighty years from 
the coming of St. Augustine, was the first instance of that 
appeal which later on in Norman times St. Ansel m and St, 
Thomas, both themselves Archbishops of Canterbury, had to 

Wilfrid determined to carry his appeal to Kome in 
person, and left Northumbria accompanied by a large train 
both of monks and laymen. He left, says his biographer 
Eddi, many thousands of his own monks in the hands of the 
new bishops, who belonged to the Celtic school, while he 
had given to all his monks the rule of St. Benedict. He 
passed by two great monasteries, that of Ely, where St. 
Etheldreda always received him as her own bishop. There 
the ox-qneenof Northumbria had established a great monas- 
tery on the dower-land which her first husband had bestowed 
\\\^on her, and which for seven years she was to rule with 
the greatest exactitude of the regular life and the highest 


character for holiness and goodness. It was the last time 
she was to receive the bishop whose firmness had enabled 
her to carry out her own original purpose, and whose stead- 
fast support had maintained her throughout. He passed 
also that other monastery of Medhampstead, which was to 
change its name of the Home in the Marshes for that of the 
prince of the Apostles, and, under the name of Peterborough, 
receive from him, when he came back, the guarantee of its 
safe continuance given him by Pope Agatho. 

Then Wilfrid, embarking, was cast by the wind on the 
Frisian coast, where he had the glory to be the first Anglo- 
Saxon who took part in the conversion of the kindred Teu- 
ton race. During several winter months he was engaged 
in preaching every day, being received with welcome both 
by the king, Aldgils, and the people. " He preached Christ 
to them, instructing many thousands of them in the word 
of truth, and washed them from the stains of their sins in 
the fountain of the Saviour. He was the first to begin there 
the evangelical work which afterwards Willibrord, Christ's 
most reverend pontifi*, completed with great devotion." ^ 

But Ebroin, Mayor of the Frank Palace, had sent to the 
Frisian king a promise under oath of a bushel of gold coins 
if he would deliver to him either the Bishop Wilfrid alive 
or his head. The king, in a great banquet which he gave 
to the envoys of Ebroin and to Wilfrid with his train, read 
this letter aloud to them, tore it in pieces, and cast them 
into the fire. Eddi, who witnessed the scene, gives us the 
words he nsed to Ebroin's envoys — " Go, tell your master 
what you have seen, and add my words. May the Creator 
of all things rend np, destroy, and consume those who 
perjure themselves to their God and keep no faith with 

Wilfrid at this time in his monastery of Ripon was, during 
thirteen years, maintaining a young Northumbrian boy, 
brought to him in childhood by the mother. This was that 
Willibrord, reserved by God to carry on after the example 
of his teacher that conversion of the Frisian race with which 
his name has been for ever connected. 

In the spring Wilfrid pursued his way to Rome through 

^ Bede, y. 19, p. 287. 



Austrasia, and found a sovereign who had formerly enjoyed 
his hospitality at Ripon.^ This was Dagobert II., who in 
his infancy had been dethroned by Grimoaldy Mayor of the 
Palace. He had been stealthily sent to Ireland, and found 
refage in a monastery. In 673 the Anstrasian lords, wish- 
ing to escape the yoke of Ebroin, the master of Nenstm 
and Burgundy, invited back the already tonsured prince. 
It was Wilfrid whom they besought to bring about his 
return, and Wilfrid it was who gave him a great reception 
in his monastery at Ripon, and sent him forward on his way 
with many gifts and a good escort Dagobert showed his 
gratitude, not only by an affectionate welcome, but by ear* 
nestly pressing Wilfrid to accept the bishopric of Strasbarg, 
then vacant, and the greatest of his kingdom. 

Wilfrid declined, and went forward to Lombardy, where 
he was kindly received by Berechtaire, then king of the 
country. There also his enemies at home had pursued him, 
and his life was saved by a king, barbarian in race, but 
already Christian. He said to Wilfrid, "Your enemies in 
England have promised me great gifts if I would prevent 
your journey to Rome, for they consider yon a fugitive 
bishop. My answer to them was this — In my youth I was 
an exile, dwelling with the king of the Avars, a pagan, who 
swore to me before his idol that he would never deliver me 
up to my enemies. Some time after this they sent to offer 
this pagan king a bushel of gold coins if he would deliver 
nie to him. He refused, saying that his gods would sever 
the thread of his life if he broke his oath. How much 
more would I, who know the true God, not lose my soul 
to gain the whole world." Upon this he gave Wilfrid and 
his train an honourable escort to conduct them to Rome. 

St. Wilfrid reached Rome at a moment of the greatest 
interest in the history of the whole Church, when St. Agatho, 
a Sicilian monk, was Pope, and was about to close a deadly 
struggle in which, during forty years, the Byzantine emperors 
had sought to overthrow the faith of the Church by the 
Monothelite heresy, which they had espoused. Wilfrid had 
left Rome more than twenty years before, an almost un- 
known man. In the interval he had become the bishop of 

^ Montaleinbert, iv. 266-26S. 


the largest see in England, and bad spread, to the best of 
his power, tbe Benedictine rule in a number of monasteries 
founded by him. He had also become the champion of 
Roman authority in the Congress of Whitby, held before 
Oswy, Northumbrian king and Bretwalda. He was now 
appealing to the Pope from an irregular act of his own 
archbishop's, specially chosen, consecrated, and sent by his 
predecessor twelve years before. While St. Agatho showed 
himself disposed to hear the plaint of the Bishop of York, 
he likewise showed great, consideration for the Archbishop 
of Canterbury. The Pope had already specially invited him, 
as Primate of England, to attend the Council which he had 
summoned at Rome against the Monothelite heresy. From 
this Theodore had on account of age excused himself; but 
he sent a monk charged with violent accusations against St. 
Wilfrid, and Hilda, the princess- abbess of Whitby, had sent 
messengers with the like complaints. 

Pope Agatho brought this whole affair of St. Wilfrid's 
appeal to him before his court of fifty bishops and priests, 
held in the Lateran Church under his own presidency. The 
Pope said, " Wilfrid, Bishop of York, is at the door. Bid 
him come in." The bishop being introduced, asked that his 
case should be read before the whole court, and said, '^ I, 
unworthy Saxon bishop, have fled for refuge to this im- 
pregnable citadel, because I know that the rule of the sacred 
canons outflows from it to all the churches of Christ. My 
bishopric, in which I have sat for more than ten years, has 
been invaded. I have been convicted of no fault, but three 
bishops have been put into my place. I do not venture to 
accuse Archbishop Theodore, because he has been sent from 
this Apostolic See. I submit myself absolutely to the Apo* 
stolic judgment. If I am to return to my see, I beg only 
that those who have usurped it may be expelled, and if the 
number of bishops is to be increased, that they may be 
selected by a council from the clergy." ^ 

Pope Agatho thereupon greatly praised the conduct of 
Wilfrid, in that, seeing himself unjustly deposed from his 
see, he did not seek to resist through the secular power, 
but '^ referred himself to the canonical help of St. Peter, 

^ See Mansi, xi. pp. 183-184 ; Montalembert, iv. 27a 


prince of the Apostles, from whom we derive, promising to 
accept the decision which St Peter, whose ofiBoe we dn- 
charge, shoald by our month enact ; " and the whole connsl 
reported, " We decree that Wilfrid the bishop take np tliB 
bishopric which he lately held, and that the bishops when 
he chooses for his helpers, with the consent of the coimol 
to be held there, be ordained by the archbishop, and that 
those who in his absence, contrary to rule, were pot into Uia 
episcopate, be expelled. 

Pope Agatho further ordered Wilfrid to take his seit 
among the 125 bishops who, by his invitation, were sittbg 
at Eome to prepare the way for the sixth General Council 
St. Theodore had been invited to attend this Council, which 
took note of the affairs of the English Church. It pre* 
scribed a new division of bishops, in which it did fnll justice 
to the archbishop's wish to increase their number, and 
ordered that the metropolitan should have twelve sufifragans 
duly elected and ordained, of whom no one should intrude 
upon the diocese of another. Thus the Pope and Council 
charged St. Theodore to complete the work of St. Gregoiy 
and St. Augustine by convoking a general assembly of the 
Anglo-Saxons, " wherein, in conjunction with the bishops, 
the kings, the chief thanes, and the faithfnl of rank, he 
might search out what he should find the best for all the 
English provinces and the whole people," 

Moreover, Bede ^ expressly states that Pope Agatho not 
only summoned Wilfrid to this Council, but enjoined him 
at the same time to declare his own faith and that of the 
province or island from which he had come, and being found 
together with his people to be Catholic in his faith, this also 
was entered in the deeds of that synod : " Wilfrid, bishop 
dear to God, of the city of York, appealing to the Apostolic 
See for his own cause, and absolved by this power from 
matters certain and uncertain, and with the other 125 
bishops in synod placed in the seat of judgment, made con- 
fession of the true and Catholic faith for all the reorion of the 
north, the islands of Britain and Ireland, which are inhabited 
by the Angles and Britons, as also by the nations of Scots 
and Picts, and ratified this with his subscription." 

^ Bede, v. 19, p. 287. 


Wilfrid remained some months at Rome, and concerned 
Idmself to obtain pontifical privileges for two great English 
monasteries, thoagh not in his own diocese, those of Peter- 
ix)rough and Ely. He had obtained that for Ely at the 
desire of the Abbess Etheldreda, but received at Rome the 
news of her death. Of all who were attached to him, she 
was the one whose trast in him created between them the 
completest union, and what he had sufiered in maintaining 
her cause was the bond of closest affection. She had been 
for seven years abbess of the convent which, when he sanc- 
tioned the invalidity of her marriage, he had encouraged 
her to raise on her own great estate at Ely. It ranked in 
importance with the monasteries of the royal abbesses, Ebba 
and Hilda. She was even queen of Northumbria, not wait- 
ing for widowhood to become a nun, but after twelve years 
of marriage exerting her right to decline a bond which she 
had never with free-will accepted. And she had made 
herself a name which was to be remembered above all others 
of her sex during the nine centuries of English Catholic 
faith ; for she was the most popular of English saints, and 
both men and women in all these generations had merged 
her name of birth into that softer name of Audrey, which 
betokened not only reverence, but a sort of domestic love. 
As in all the converted nations, the Saxon children of Odin 
bear the palm in their choice of the virginal life, so she bore 
in their own mind the palm among them ; for being a king's 
daughter, endowed with beauty which brought suitor after 
suitor to her feet, compelled against her will to accept the 
first rank, the friend of St. Cuthbert as well as of St. 
Wilfrid, venerated by two husbands who were only allowed 
to give her their name, she was not content to spend on 
the building and forming of monasteries two great estates, 
but, in the full lustre of a beauty which lasted to her dying 
day, she became as abbess the most perfect of nuns^ the 
most self-denying to herself, the fullest of loving-kindness 
to others. What Bede has not hesitated to say of her we 
may venture to quote.^ " She was carried off suddenly to 
the Lord in the midst of her people, seven years after she 
had held the rank of abbess, and according to her own 

> Bede, iv. 19, p. 215. 


command was buried in a wooden coffin in their midst, in 
the usual order. She was succeeded as abbess by her sister, 
Sexburg, who had been wife of Ercombert, king of Kent 
When she had been buried sixteen years, that abbess re- 
solved to disinter her bones and translate them in a new 
coffin to the church. And she bade some of the brethren 
search for a stone out of which they could make a coffin. 
They went on board a boat, for Ely itself is a district siup- 
rounded with water and marsh, and has no big stones in it 
And they came to a deserted small town, not far off, which 
in the English tongue is called Grantchester, and near its 
walls they found a coffin most beautifully made of white 
marble, with a lid also of the like marble closely fitting. So 
understanding that their journey had been favoured by the 
Lord, they brought it back thankfully to the monastery. 

" Bat when the body of the sacred virgin and bride of 
Christ had been brought to open day out of the grave, it 
was found as incorrupt as if she had died or been buried 
upon that day, as Bishop Wilfrid and many others who 
knew of it attest. But with more certain knowledge, the 
medical man, Cynifrid, who was present both at her death 
and when she was raised from the grave, was accustomed 
to relate that when she was ill she had a very great tumour 
under the breast, * and they told me,' he said, * to make an 
incision in that tumour to let out the bad matter in it. 
This I did, and she seemed for two days to be somewhat 
better, so that many thought she might get well. But the 
third day the old severe pains came back ; she was snatched 
suddenly from the world, and changed death for perpetual 
health and life. And when, after so many years, her bones 
were to be raised from the grave, and a tent was spread 
over, and the whole congregation of brethren on the one 
side, and sisters on the other, stood chanting psalms, while 
the abbess herself had gone inside with a few to raise the 
bones and wash them, suddenly we heard the abbess from 
within proclaim with a loud voice, * Glory be to the name 
of the Lord.' Presently after they called for me to come 
inside the door of the tent, and I saw the body of God's 
sacred virgin raised from the grave, and lying on a couch 
like one asleep. But when the covering on the face was 


removed, they showed me the wound made by my incision 
healed, so that, instead of the open and gaping wound with 
which she was buried, the smallest traces of a cicatrice then 
appeared.' But also all the foldings in which the body had 
been wrapped appeared unstained, and so fresh that they 
seemed to have been put that very day on her chaste limbs. 
They say that when she was suffering from this tumour 
and pain of the cheek or neck, she was much pleased with 
this kind of infirmity, and was accustomed to say, 'I am 
quite sure that I deserve to carry on my neck the weight 
of this pain, on which when a girl I remember carrying 
very heavy necklaces; and I believe that heavenly good- 
ness willed me to have pain of the neck, that so I may be 
absolved from the guilt of my excessive levity, when a red 
tumour and burning heat disfigure my neck, to make up 
for gold and pearls.' Now by the touch of the wraps 
surrounding her, evil spirits were expelled from bodies pos- 
sessed by them, and other infirmities were in many cases 
cured. They relate also that the coflSn in which she was 
first buried saved pain to the eyesight in some cases ; when 
patients prayed leaning their head against it, they presently 
lost the pain or the darkness of their sight. So the virgins 
washed the body, draped it in new robes, and carried it into 
the church, and placed it in the sarcophagus brought, where 
to the present day it is held in great veneration. It is 
wonderful that a sarcophagus so fitting the body of the 
virgin was found, as if it had been made on purpose, and 
a place for the head cut separately, answering exactly to 
the size of hers." 

Bede adds to this narrative a Latin elegy which he had 
composed many years before "to the praise of that queen 
and spouse of Christ." 

Etheldreda, queen of Northumbria, resigned her crown, 
and was sanctioned by Wilfrid, Bishop of Northumbria, 
after full examination of her case, which she set before him, 
in becoming first a nun, in doing which she took refuge with 
the king's own aunt, the Abbess Ebba, at her monastery of 
Coldingham. Flying thence, because the abbess felt that 
she could not protect her from the reviving passion of her 
nephew. King Egfrid, she was able through many difficulties, 


which the popular devotion kept for ages in remembrance^ 
to escape to Ely, where Wilfrid further sanctioned her- 
founding an abbey and becoming its first abbess. As suck 
she lived seven years, from 672 to 679. She was suc- 
ceeded by her elder sister, Sexburg, who had been wife 
Ercombert, grandson of St. Ethelbert, and most zealous in 
the destruction of idolatry. Among their children was 
Ermenilda, wife of Wulphere, son of the pagan persecutor 
Penda, and king of Mercia from 656 to 675. Queen 
Ermenilda was zealous in her endeavours to spread the 
Christian faith, and in her widowhood succeeded her mother 
as third abbess of Ely. That convent had the singular lot 
of receiving three queens for its first three abbesses. Nor 
was the fourth less illustrious, as St. Werburga followed 
her mother, Ermenilda, and having been abbess first at 
Weedon, then at Trentham, thirdly at Hanbury, being 
fourth in lineal descent from Ethelbert, became fourth 
Abbess of Ely. 

Among Bede's most valuable and most attaching works 
is a notice which he has left us of the five abbots who 
first governed the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, 
to the discipline of which he was indebted for the forma- 
tion of his character, as he further owed his learning to 
the peace and undisturbed tranquillity of their institution 
and to tlieir treasured library. He begins with the founder. 

"The religious servant of Christ, Biscop,^ surnamed 
Bennet, by the help of grace from above, built a monastery 
in honour of the most blessed prince of the Apostles, Peter, 
near the mouth of the river Wear, to the north, for which 
Egbert, the worshipful and very pious king of that people, 
gave him land and assistance. During sixteen years he 
carefully ruled that monastery with the same zeal with 
which he had built it, amid numberless toils from the 
journeys which he made or the infirmities he suffered. He 
was sprung from a noble English stock, but with no less 
nobility of mind devoted himself to gain for ever life in 
company with the angels. Being already at the court of 
King Oswy, and by his gift possessing a landed estate suit- 
able to his rank, at the age of twenty -five he disdained 

^ Historia Abbatum, &c, p. 316. 


a perishable in order to obtain an eternal inheritance; he 
despised this earthly warfare with corruptible payment, pre- 
ferring to be in the service of the true King, and merit to 
have a perpetual reign in the celestial city. He left home, 
relations, and country for Christ and the gospel, to receive a 
hundredfold and possess eternal life. He rejected children 
of the flesh that he might be able to follow the Lamb who 
shines with the glory of virginity. Being predestined by 
Christ to educate sons for Him in spiritual doctrine, who 
were to dwell in immortal life, he rejected the fathership 
of mortal offspring. 

" Thus he made a first journey to Rome in 653 to behold 
and worship with his own body the spots where the bodies 
rested of those blessed Apostles with desire of whom he 
was ever kindled. Ileturning soon to his country, he ceased 
not to love and venerate those institutions of ecclesiastical 
life which he had seen, and to preach them to such as he 
could. At this time King Oswy's son Alchfrid was pur- 
posing to go to Rome to worship the Apostolic threshold, 
and wished to have him for companion. When King Oswy 
preferred to have his son remain in his kingdom, Bennet 
Biscop in his youthful zeal went again with great speed to 
Rome in the time of Pope Vitalian of blessed memory. As 
before, he imbibed with delight not a few lessons of holy 
knowledge, and after a few months he went to the island 
of Lerins, gave himself to the monks there, received the 
tonsure, and took on him the regular discipline and vow 
of monastic life. After two years, instructed completely in 
this, again carried away by his love for Peter, prince of the 
Apostles, he determined to return to the city consecrated by 
his body. 

"At this time Egbert, king of Kent, had sent from 
Britain Wighard, elected for the office of bishop. He had 
been sufficiently trained in all ecclesiastical instruction by 
the Roman disciples in Kent of blessed Pope Gregory. 
King Egbert had wished him to be consecrated at Rome 
for his bishop, so that having a prelate of his own nation 
and tongue, he might, with the people his subjects, be more 
perfectly imbued both with the mysteries of faith and the 
language in which they were couched, when these should be 


received, not through an interpreter, but by the tongue and 
the hand of a kinsman and a tribesman. This Wighard 
came to Rome with all his train, but died of a sudden attack 
before he received the pontificate in a.d. 66y. Bat the 
Apostolic Pope, fearing lest the religious deputation of the 
faithful to him might lack its due fruit by the death of 
those deputed, took counsel, and elected from his own 
people the archbishop to send to Britain — that is, Theo- 
dorus, qualified both by secular and ecclesiastical learning, 
and that in both languages, Greek and Latin. He gave 
him for colleague and counsellor a most energetic and 
prudent man, Abbot Adrian, and because he saw that 
Bennet was a man wise, industrious, religious, and of noble 
rank, he commended to him the bishop, when consecrated, 
with all his people. He enjoined him .to give up the 
pilgrimage which he had taken for Christ's sake, and, in 
view of a greater good, to return to his country, bringing 
to it a teacher of truth such as he had carefully sought oot^ 
to whom, both in his journey thither and in his teaching 
there, he might serve as interpreter and guide. It was 
done as he bade. They came to Kent : were most graciously 
received. Theodore ascended the bishop's seat. Bennet 
received the government of St. Peter's monastery, of which 
later Adrian was made abbot. 

" After two years' government of this monastery he went 
on a fourth visit to Rome, and either bought there, or re- 
ceived by gift of friends, a large number of books of the 
divine learning, which he brought back with him. When 
he reached North umbria again, and its king, Egfrid, he told 
him all that he had done since in early life he resigned his 
country. He did not conceal the ardour of his religious 
zeal ; how he had studied at Rome and in all parts the 
Church's rule and the monastic institute ; he made known 
how many sacred volumes, how large a number of relics, 
whether of apostles or of martyrs, he had brought ; and he 
acquired such favour and intimacy with the king that he 
gave him at once land enough for seventy families out of 
his own domain, and charged him to build there a monas- 
tery to the first pastor of the Church, which was built in the 
year 674, the fourth of Egfrid's reign. 


" Not more than a year after its foundation, Bennet went 

over to France, and brought back with him masons, who 

built a stone church after the Roman fashion, which he had 

always loved, and he worked so hard out of love for St. 

Peter that within a year the roof could be put on and mass 

said. When the work was approaching completion he sent 

for glaziers from France, whose art was hitherto unknown 

in England. Everything needed for the ministry of the 

altar and church, holy vessels and vestments, not being able 

to find at home, that religious purchaser brought from parts 

beyond the sea. 

" But what he could not find even in Gaul, that active 
provider for the ornaments of his church brought by a fifth 
journey from Rome. First, a vast multitude of books of 
all kinds ; secondly, an abundant grace of relics of apostles 
and martyrs to servo many English churches; thirdly, he 
bestowed on his monastery an order of singing and chanting, 
and ministering in the church according to Roman institu- 
tion, having asked and accepted from Pope Agatho, John, 
the archcantor of St. Peter's and abbot of St. Martin's, whom 
he brought to Britain — a Roman to Englishmen — to be 
the future teacher of his monastery ; and John coming 
thither, not only delivered orally to his pupils what he had 
taught at Rome, but also left much written, which hitherto 
has been kept out of gratitude to him in the monastery's 

" Fourthly, Bennet brought no mean gift, a letter of pri- 
vilege from the venerable Pope Agatho, accepted with the 
permission, consent, desire, and entreaty of King Egfrid, in 
which the monastery he had made should be absolutely safe 
and free for ever without interruption. Fifthly, he brought 
pictures of holy likenesses to adorn St. Peter's Church, 
which he had built, such as the likeness of the blessed 
Mother of God and ever- virgin Mary ; of the Twelve Apostles 
to adorn the central vault ; of the Gospel history to decorate 
the southern wall ; the Apocalyptic visions of St. John to 
adorn the northern. Thus they who entered the church, 
however ignorant of letters, wherever they cast their eyes, 
would ever behold the aspect lovely, though but in images, 
of Christ and of His saints, or would watchfully retrace the 


grace of the Lord's incarnation, or would carefully examine 
themselves in that trial of the last judgment which they saw 
before their eyes. 

" King Egfrid had been so delighted with the building of 
the monastery at Wearmouth to St. Peter, that he gave 
further land to St. Bennet, fit for the maintenance of forty 
families, to build a monastery to St. Paul at Jarrow, on 
the Tyne, six miles off from the former. This monastery 
was provided in a similar way with the older. Each had 
an abbot, under St Bennet, in his frequent absences. At 
length Bennet himself wasted away with a long illness of 
three years. Often and often he charged the monks of his 
two monasteries to keep the rule which he had established. 
* You are not to suppose,' he told them, * that I have out of 
my own head produced these decrees. I have learnt all this 
out of the seventeen monasteries which, in all my many 
wanderings, I have found the best, and delivered it to you 
for safe maintenance.' He enjoined that the very noble and 
rich library, necessary for the instruction of the church, 
which he had brought to them from Rome, should be care* 
fully maintained, and not scattered. He many times re« 
peated to them his charge that, in electing the abbot, they 
were to choose not his family, but his fair life and upright 
teaching. I tell you of a truth, that of two evils I would far 
rather that God, if He so judged, should reduce this spot, 
in which I have planted a monastery, to an eternal solitude, 
than that my brother by the natural tie, who we know has 
not entered the path of truth, should succeed me as abbot 
in ruling it. Beware, then, my brothers, how you ever 
seek a father for race, or for any other outward quality ; 
but, according to the rule of the great Abbot Benedict, 
according to the terms of our privilege, in the assembly of 
your congregation inquire with common counsel who is fitter 
and worthier for such a ministry by the merit of his life 
and his repute of wisdom, and whom all, with an unanimous 
search of charity, choose for the best. Call upon the bishop, 
and beg that he may be established as your abbot with the 
usual benediction. They who in a carnal order generate 
sons after the fiesh must seek carnal and earthly heirs for 
a carnal and earthly inheritance ; but they who bear spiritual 


sons to God from the spiritual seed of the Word must have 
all their actions spiritual. Let them count among their 
spiritual children that one the greater who is endowed with 
an ampler grace of spirit. So earthly parents are wont to 
consider their first-bom the beginning of their children, and 
in partitioning their inheritance give him the preference.' " 

Bennet Biscop died in January 690, sixteen years after 
he had founded the first of his two monasteries at Wear- 
mouth. He had already seen two of his abbots die, one of 
them, Easterwin, a kinsman of his own, formerly an officer 
in the king's court before he became a monk, who died 
when he was absent in his last journey to Rome ; the other, 
Sigfrid, chosen by the monks to succeed him. He also died 
four months before St. Bennet, who then appointed Ceolfric 
abbot of both monasteries. Ceolfric ruled with the same 
remarkable care and zeal. He obtained from Pope Sergius 
the same privilege which St. Bennet had obtained from Pope 
Agatho. Ceolfric left at his departure in 716 from his 
monasteries to Rome about six hundred brethren. Ho died 
on his journey three months afterwards, forty-three years 
since he had been associated with St. Bennet, at the time 
when, as Bede has written, " he began to build his monas- 
tery in honour of the most blessed prince of the Apostles, 
and Ceolfric was to him an indivisible companion, working 
with him and teaching with him the regular monastic 

We learn the conversion of England from one man con- 
temporaneous with it, fully informed by so many actors in 
that work, and the most scrupulously honest of historians. 
He assures us in the narratives which we have quoted from 
him, that this great victory over paganism was the exclusive 
work of the monastic life in the two sexes. The character 
which St. Gregory the Great had impressed on the whole 
movement was continued throughout the century. The 
monk-bishop whom the martyr-king Oswald summoned from 
lona to convert his subjects, and no less the two bishops 
who succeeded him, together with those who worked under 
them, and planted the faith by their labours, their preaching, 
and that life which made both labours and preaching fruit- 
ful, were monks. At the same time with them came the 


royal nnns who presided as abbesses at Coldingbam, at 
Whitby, and at Ely, and who showed how deeply the Anglo- 
Saxon maidens shared the conviction which stirred the other 
sex. The monasteries which they represent in chief arose 
on all sides. 

^' All the bishops of the Heptarchy came oat of monas* 
teries. Monks exclusively formed the clergy of the cathedrals, 
where they lived in community with the diocesan prelate 
for their chief." ^ That was the very instruction given to 
St. Augustine for Canterbury by St. Gregory himself, 
" During a century at least they acted exclusively for secular 
or parochial clergy. The monasteries were the homes whence 
the missionaries went forth to go to the rural stations, 
where they baptized, preached, and celebrated all the 
ceremonies of worship. Thither they returned to restore 
themselves by study and prayer. Eural parishes came but 
slowly, encouraged by Archbishop Theodore in the south, 
by Archbishop Egbert and Bede in the north. Thus monas- 
teries served Christian England a long time, not only for 
cathedrals, but for parishes. Most of the cathedrals pre* 
served their monastic character even after the Norman 
conquest. The decrees of the Council of Cloveshoe in 747 
are the first authentic documents which prove as a general 
fact the distribution of lay lands into districts administered 
by priests subject to bishops, not connected with churches 
situated on lands dependent on monasteries, and served by 
priests subject to abbots. These churches, where the priest 
was always attended by a deacon and several clerics, are 
sometimes called little monasteries."* 

The hundred and filly years during which Saxon life 
carried out in Britain the traditions and practices in which 
the children of Odin were nurtured, had swept away all 
marks of the former Briton church. The only three relics ' 
remaining were Glastonbury, always a great centre of Celtic 
devotion ; the little church close to Canterbury, where Queen 
Bertha used to pray ; and the fragments of a British church 
discovered in the brushwood at Evesham in laying the 
foundations of the new abbey, the consecration of which 

1 Muntalembert, v. I53-I5S. ' LingarJ, i. 151-161. 

' Muut&lembert, v. 155. 


was St. Wilfrid's last public work. So much the more 
wonderful was the ardour of those same children of Odin 
in propagating, after the coming of St. Augustine, the same 
faith which had previously vanished before them. " There 
never was any people who embraced religion with a more 
fervent zeal than the Anglo-Saxon, nor with more simpli- 
city of spirit. As the monks at this time attracted all the 
religious veneration, religion everywhere began to relish of 
the cloister." ^ " It was frequent for kings to go on pilgrim- 
ages to Rome or to Jerusalem on foot, and under circum- 
stances of great hardship. Several kings resigned their 
crowns to devote themselves to religious contemplation in 
monasteries — more, at that time and in this nation, than 
in all other nations and in all times.'' "The monastic 
institution, then, interwoven with Christianity, and making 
an equal progress with it, attained to so high a pitch of 
prosperity and power, as in a time extremely short to form 
a kind of order, and that not the least considerable, in the 
Stata" * " There was no part of their policy, of whatever 
nature, that procured to them a greater or juster credit 
than their cultivation of learning and useful arts. It is 
certain that the introduction of learning and civility into 
this northern world is entirely owing to their labours." ^ 
"They were cultivated in the leisure and retirement of 
monasteries, otherwise they could not have been cultivated 
at all ; for it was altogether necessary to draw certain men 
from the general rude and fierce society, and wholly to set 
a bar between them and the barbarous life of the rest of 
the world, in order to fit them for study and the cultiva- 
tion of arts and science." * " It is by no means impossible 
that for an end so worthy — the introduction of Christianity 
— Providence on such occasions might have directly inter- 
posed. The books which contain the history of this time 
and change are little else than a narrative of miracles. It 
is suflScient to observe that the reality or opinion of such 
miracles was the principal cause of the early acceptance and 
rapid progress of Christianity in this island." ^ 

Monks approaching all the kingdoms of the Heptarchy, 

^ Burke, pp. 282-283. ' Ihid, p. 264. ' Ibid. p. 271. 

* Ihid, p. 274. * Ibid, p. 263. 


one after another, as missionaries, remained there per- 
manently as bishops, pastors, preachers; by degrees they 
sabdued the British soil and covered it with their establish- 
ments.^ Their work was slow and diflScult They had 
storms ; they had revolutions. The Jutes after Ethelbert's 
death fell back in Kent; twice there were apostasies in 
East Anglia. The old British Christians pursued with 
fury the Saxons becoming Christians, as in Northumbria ; 
and the heathen Saxon Penda spent thirty years of his 
life in alliance with them against those of his own race 
who were being converted. All these difficulties were gradu- 
ally overcome by the self-denying and patient perseverance 
of the monks who derived their mission from lona. Thev 
did not use violence in the work of conversion. King 
Edwin, consulting with his Witan before he received bap- 
tism at York, and weighing carefully the doctrines which 
he was going to receive, pictures also the history of the 
sixty years of which he stands at the head; and at the 
same time he marks the conjunction of the secular authority 
with the spiritual from the beginning. Bishops and abbots 
sat in deliberation beside kings and thanes. At Whitby the 
very assembly which determined under the Bretwalda the 
reception of Roman rather than of Celtic customs as to the 
time of celebrating Easter, was held in the convent of the 
royal Hilda, attended by thanes as well as by bishops and 
priests. It is, in fact, the image of a Parliament, the meet- 
ing together and sitting beside each other of the spiritual 
and the temporal powers, and a discussion in common such 
as never can be seen in the city founded by Constantine, 
nor in the councils collected by Byzantine emperors. 

The union which thus grew up between the Church and 
the State was the offspring of the monastic spirit. The 
liberty which reigned within the walls of the monastery be- 
tween the fathers, who gave implicit obedience to the abbot 
whom themselves had chosen, and who were called by him 
to consultation in every important matter, formed an element 
henceforth in the temporal government of kingdoms. The 
blessing of St. Benedict had overflowed his monastery, and 
made all the ranks of a society which he had formed in 

^ Montalembert, v. 147. 


every part of the countries claimed by him for his own. 
The lords who owned vast lands, and the people who culti- 
vated these lands under them, had in large numbers em* 
braced, by their own free choice, the spiritual life under the 
Benedictine rule. The result was that the secular life itself 
became capable of higher aims than it had known in Con- 
stantino's empire. Another standard had educated the race 
out of which Charlemagne arose. We may take Wilfrid and 
Bennet Biscop as choice specimens of a class which became 
very numerous first in Gaul, from the time that St. Maur 
went forth from Monte Cassino with the blessing of his 
patriarch and settled on the banks of the Loire. Then, 
following on St. Augustine's mission, the same wonderful 
expansion of the monastic life appeared in England, and 
presently St. Columba entered into the tent of St Benedict. 
Wilfrid and Bennet Biscop were Anglican nobles, knights by 
race, of whom in their natural condition kings were proud, 
mates of thanes and ealdermen. Wilfrid is said to have left 
thousands of monks behind him when he appealed to Pope 
Agatho in 680. Bennet Biscop, in his sixteen years, from 
674 to 690, constructed monasteries which had six hundred 
monks when Ceolfrid, the teacher and friend of Bede, left 
them to go to Rome in 716. They planted the Benedictine 
rule in the North of England ; and in the twenty -two years 
of the Primate chosen and sent at the request of the Bret- 
walda Oswy by Pope Vitalian, the rule which had originally 
gone from St Gregory to Canterbury coalesced for all Eng- 
land with that which came from the missionary work of the 
Celtic teachers. But see the great part which the Teuton 
women took. Ethelbert had been married for many years 
to his queen Bertha, the Merovingian daughter of Charibert, 
king of Paris. Before he bowed his head to the banner of 
Christ, he weighed, meditated, and calmly accepted the 
change from Odin to Christ. Consider the line which fol- 
lowed. By Queen Bertha he bad his daughter Ethelburga, 
who carried the Christian faith into the household of the 
Northumbrian King Edwin. That king also weighed and 
meditated before he yielded to the preaching of Paulinus. 
Carried away to speedy martyrdom, yet to him was given a 
daughter, Eanfleda, whose life as queen of Northumbria runs 



as a golden thread for eight-and-twenty years throngh the 
reign of her husband Oswy ; and they too have a daughter, 
that Elileda given by her father in her infancy as a thanks- 
giving to God for the great victory over the heathen Penda, 
after which his children made Mercia Christian ; and Elfieda 
at six-and-twenty years of age succeeded Hilda as Abbess 
of Whitby: four women — Bertha, Ethelburga, Eanfleda, 
Elfleda, mother, daughter, grand -daughter, great-grand- 
daughter — whose names are woven into the history of 
Christian England. Not only was Ethelburga the mother 
of a great offspring, but her brother Eadbald, who had given 
her in that marriage to King Edwin, reigned most nobly ^ 
after his conversion by St. Lawrence ; and his son Ercombert 
was the first king of the Angles who had the idols destroyed 
in all his kingdom and ordered the forty days fast of Lent 
to be kept. He espoused Sexburga, daughter of Ina, king 
of the East Angles. One of their daughters, Earcongotha, 
became of great renown as Abbess of Faremoutier; and 
this gives occasion to Bede to note * the close connection 
there was between the first English monasteries and those 
which had already sprung up in France, descending from 
St. Martin or St. Maur, or the great Irish missionary St. 
Columban. Thither in their first conversion the Anglo- 
Saxons sent their daughters to be educated, and for espousal 
to the Heavenly Bridegroom ; so that France became the 
cradle of English nuns. That wonderful growth which was 
about to burst out in England was specially fostered by the 
communities on the banks of the Marne and the Seine, such 
as Jouarres, Faremoutier, Andelys, and Chelles. The double 
monasteries, carefully separated from each other, of monks 
and nuns, but under the government of one abbot, passed 
from France to England. Earcongotha was another great- 
grand-daughter of Ethelbert, and her sister Ermenilda, queen 
of Mercia for many years, became in her widowhood third 
Abbess of Ely, and was succeeded by her daughter Wer- 
burga as fourth Abbess of Ely, being fourth in descent from 
Ethelbert. But the number of great Anglo-Saxon women 
who either began or ended as nuns is so large that I shrink 
from the attempt to record them. It is enough to bear in 

1 « Nobilissime,** saya Bede. * Bede, iiL 8 ; Montalembert, v. 259. 


mind the roost illastrioas of them all, that Etheldreda whose 
name of Audrey shone as a light through so many centuries 
of English history. When the first in rank of all English 
women left the throne of the most powerful king to become 
a nun — when the bishop most persuasive, the observed of 
all observers, the champion of Kome and establisher of the 
Benedictine rule in the North, received and sanctioned her 
renunciation of the world, which he could only do because 
she had refused her consent to the conjugal life at its begin- 
ningy they joined together the natural reverence for women 
which bad dwelt in the Teutonic race with that respect for 
the virginal life shown in the consecration of it by the 
Church's ritual. The historian of the monks of the West 
records what ensued on that example : '' Not to mention 
bishops, abbots, monks, solitaries, we count from the seventh 
to the eleventh century twenty-three kings, and sixty queens, 
princes, or princesses, issuing from the different Anglo-Saxon 
dynasties, among the saints recognised by the Church. No 
other nation has ever furnished an equal contingent." 

Etheldreda was niece of Hilda through her sister Here- 
switha, and great-niece of Edwin. Wilfrid and Bennet 
Biscop were nobles of Edwin's kingdom. This conversion 
of the race of Odin was specially fostered during that seventh 
century from the time that Pope Boniface V. wrote to en- 
courage Edwin in the rejection of idolatry, and Pope 
Honorius congratulated him on leaving it, and Pope Euge- 
nius welcomed Wilfrid and Bennet Biscop, and Pope Vitalian 
found a Primate for them, and Pope Agatho confirmed Wil- 
frid's appeal, and Pope Sergius found Bome already a place 
of Saxon pilgrimage. The same historian declares how, " in 
transforming the manners and beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon 
conquerors, the monastic missionaries altered in nothing that 
native genius of the German race.^ They were able to make 
a nation of Christians more fervent, more generous in alms, 
more submissive, and more attached to the Church, more 
magnificent in their munificence to monasteries, more fruit- 
ful in saints of both sexes, than any other contemporaneous 
nation. But they deprived it of no public virtues, no one 
of its rude and energetic instincts. They retrenched no 

^ Montalembert, v. 193. 


particle of its manly nature ; infringed in nothing that inde- 
pendence and boldness which have remained to this day its 
distinctive mark." 

Thus the seventh century is marked to England ever- 
more as the time of its conversion to the Christian faith. 
And this conversion is brought about by a new and most 
energetic race deserting that life of Odin which had been its 
portion during several hundred years. During the hundred 
and fifty years in which it had occupied this island it had 
followed the tradition in which it was nurtured. It had 
indulged in perpetual war, slaughter, and plunder, not only 
with the Britons whom it had invaded, but with other 
bands of its own tribes, for so the Valhalla which it 
worshipped on the other side of the dark valley required. 
To such a race those who came to preach Christ bore no 
weapon ; they unsheathed no sword ; they shed no blood. 
They exhibited a Redeemer -God who suffered, and who 
was bom of a maiden -mother, and they carried in their 
own flesh the tokens of the one and of the other. What 
ensued remains for ever a marvel, a miracle which none 
can deny, and greater by far than raising the dead to life, 
healing the paralytic, or causing the blind to see. For 
a great multitude of all classes listened to this teaching, 
and imitated in their own persons the teachers. Monks 
came to teach them, and monks they became. Mothers 
and daughters were told of the spotless Mother, and they 
became like her in their mode of life. It was preached to 
them in the words of one who himself saw and studied tbe 
Fathers of the Desert : — " Christ is come of a virgin : 
ye women be virgins, that you may become mothers of 
Christ." They believed and obeyed.^ This with a certain 
portion of the population, suflSciently large to be endowed 
by the kings, queens, and nobles with such public and 
private lands as made them in no long time a power in 
the State. But their own choice of life, the following a 
strict rule in prayer, in food, in the discipline which makes 
a house, combined with the declining the tie of marriage, 
the following a direct imitation of their Lord, made them a 
standard of excellence, an example ennobling the more 

^ St. Gregory NazianzeD, Sermon on Christmas Day, 380. 


common course of the world around them. But in that self- 
same century wherein England was thus gained there arose 
a power which designedly set itself to destroy the monastic 
life. The Caliphs of Mohammed recognised in the monk 
not only the professor and practiser of the faith which they 
most opposed, but the manner of life the most hostile to 
their own example and practice. The founder of their 
misbelief had shown this abhorrence in all his conduct, and 
all those who owned him for their prophet derived from 
him a relentless persecution in both sexes of the life which 
consists in a special imitation of Christ. While Aidan and 
Finlan and Colman were gathering their proselytes in the 
glens and valleys of Northumberland, Omar was destroying 
thousands of Christian churches in the wide regions which 
his armies occupied, and carrying into infamous captivity 
multitudes of nuns. As England was lifted up to the 
divine life, its lustre sank in Syria, Mesopotamia, and North 
Africa. The land of the Fathers of the Desert relinquished 
the light which had shone on them so brightly three hun- 
dred years before, while it rose to kindle for many centuries 
the unquenchable torch of piety and learning in more lasting 
homes through Gaul and the British Isles, and presently on 
the yet heathen land of Arminius, the land of Saxons unre- 
claimed, which caused Augustus to cry out for his legions, 
but accepted Boniface, the Anglo-Saxon monk, for the chief 
of its hierarchy. 



Bede dwells very stroDgly upon the great strengthening of 
the Church in England wrought by Archbishop Theodore in 
the twenty-two years of his primacy, which ran from 66S 
to 690. He stemmed, so far as lay in his power, the 
many irregularities which had sprung up in different parts. 
Some of these may well be ascribed to the seven or eight 
kingdoms into which the land was divided; not to men- 
tion that in this time the various regions of England were 
only more or less converted. Of these, Sussex was among 
the last, and it was converted by the action of St. Wilfrid, 
who had been most irregularly expelled from his own 
diocese of York, then embracing all Northumbria, by the 
anger of King Egfrid, exasperated against the bishop after 
the surrendering of his throne by his queen Etheldreda. 
And here it is remarkable that Archbishop Theodore, whose 
authority in general had been exerted to bring about one 
order and observation of the universal canonical rules among 
his bishops, had for some unexplained reason allowed him- 
self to depose Bishop Wilfrid, to divide his diocese into 
three, without even hearing him, and even, what is still 
more strange, when Wilfrid had returned from Rome, and 
was restored by the judgment of Pope Agatho I., had 
suffered King Egfrid first to imprison him and then to 
continue the privation of his see. But Wilfrid, retiring 
from York, carried his episcopal action and all his vigour 
and heroic endurance of wrong into other part«. He added 
to his crown by converting and civilising the wild Saxons 
of Sussex. In due time King Egfrid was killed in battle ; 
his second wife, in her widowhood, was converted from an 
enemy to a friend of Wilfrid. The Primate, Theodore, 

confessed his wrong done to Wilfrid, desired to have him 



for his own successor, a desire wLich did not move Wilfrid's 
assent to it; and Wilfrid came back to York, and lived 
to be again a great Northern bishop, to protect again and 
support all his houses of Benedictine monks, to suffer a 
second persecution from another king of Northumbria, to 
appeal again to another Pope, John VI., and once more 
to be restored by him after a solemn judgment, so that he 
died at last in his place, the man of unconquered resolution, 
spotless in life and heroic in charity, whose forty-five years 
as bishop, since he fought the battle of Rome before the 
Saxon Bretwalda at Whitby, to his death as both bishop 
and head of many Benedictine abbeys among his brethren 
in 709, can scarcely be surpassed in the annals of the 
whole episcopate; that perpetual ten thousand who form 
the personal guards of our Lord through all the ages, at 
present nineteen centuries, of His conflict with the world. 

It is in St. Theodore's primacy that we have marked for 
us the first rise of a commencing parochial administration ; 
hitherto the cathedrals were ruled by bishops, who lived as 
monks with their clergy, according to the original institution 
of Pope Gregory. Further, the monasteries, as established 
by Wilfrid and Bennet Biscop, supplied a great number of 
monks who, from them, visited the country round them, 
preaching, instructing, baptizing, tending the sick ; while 
the female monasteries, such as those of Whitby, Colding- 
ham, and Ely, embraced a great number of nuns. But 
gradually thanes were converted and built churches, they 
gave part of their land for the maintenance of these churches, 
and on these priests were settled by the several bishops.^ 

The chief resource of the bishops to obtain such mass- 
priests lay in the cathedral monastery, where the clergy were 
carefully instructed in their duties and trained in their 
exercise. These communities formed the principal semi- 
naries for the education of the clergy. Here, with the 
assistance of the best masters, the young ecclesiastics were 
initiated in the different sciences which were studied at that 
period, while the restraint of a wise and vigilant discipline 

^ See Lingard, i. 148-161, in which pages he describes the first institution 
of maM-priests in district churches, holding under the bishops, not under 


withheld them from the sednctiobs of vice, and enured them 
to the labours and the duties of their work. According to 
their years and merit they were admitted to the lower orders 
of the hierarchy, and might, with the approbation of their 
superior, aspire at the age of five-and-twenty to the order 
of deacon ; at thirty to that of priest, but not unless their 
services were actually required for the performance of some 
office to which they had been appointed. By ecclesiastical 
law no mass-priest could be instituted ; by both ecclesiastical 
and national law none could be removed, without the con- 
sent of the bishop. In the language of the time, the mass- 
priest was wedded to his church, and could not be divorced 
from it but for a reasonable cause, and by his own judge. 
It was in his church that he ought to be daily found at the 
seven canonical hours, to sing the praises of God, and to 
pray for himself, for his flock, and for all Christian people. 
The baptism of infants was particularly recommended to his 
care. He was to be ready to administer that sacrament at 
all hours ; to see that it was not delayed beyond a certain 
time after the birth, and to compel the parents to offer the 
child soon afterwards to the bishop for confirmation. Atten- 
tion to the sick was another important branch of his duty. 
He was to visit them frequently, to hear their confessions, 
to carry and administer to them the eucharist, and then to 
anoint them with the Inst unction. In the tribunal of pen- 
ance — an institution which formed the most difficult of his 
duties — he was advised to weigh with discretion every alle- 
viating or aggravating circumstance, that he might appor- 
tion the penance to the offence ; and in aid of his own judg- 
ment, he was advised to consult and follow the directions of 
the Penitential. 

A mass-priest was not appointed without a deacon to 
attend upon him ; and at least two other clerics of minor 
orders would be found in his household ; he was therefore 
never left solitary, nor exposed to the dangers which such 
a condition would entail. He had to instruct these in he 
Latin language and in ecclesiastical learning ; and not only 
tliem, but generally also the children of his parishioners. 
" Mass-priests," says the authority, " shall always have at 
their houses a school of learners, and if any good man will 


trust Tiis little ones to them for lore, they shall right gladly 
receive and kindly teach them. Ye shall remember that it 
is written : * They that be learned shall shine as heaven's 
brightness, and they that draw and instruct many to righte- 
ousness shall shine as stars for ever.' They shall not, how- 
ever, for such lore, demand anything of the parents, besides 
that which the latter may do of their own will." ^ 

The mass-priest was strictly confined to a life of con- 
tinency, a regulation equally practised and enforced by the 
Soman and the Scottish missionaries. This discipline was 
based on the doctrine of Christ in the Gospel, that His 
disciples must be ready to renounce the gratifications of 
sense, to forsake parents, wife, and children, through the 
love of Him; and on the reasoning of the Apostle that 
while the married man is necessarily solicitous for the con- 
cerns of this world, the unmarried is at liberty to turn his 
whole attention to the service of God. Hence it was in- 
ferred that the eoibarrassments of wedlock were hostile to 
the devotion of a mass-priest. His parishioners, it was said, 
were his family, and to watch over their spiritual welfare, to 
instruct their ignorance, to console them in their afilictions, 
and to relieve them in their indigence, were to be his con- 
stant and favourite occupations. 

As to the Anglo-Saxon Church, every doubt as to the 
discipline established in it by the Koman missionaries from 
the very beginning must be removed by the answer of St. 
Gregory to St. Augustine, according to which only the clerics 
who had not been raised to the higher orders, and who pro- 
fessed themselves unable to lead a life of continency, were 
permitted to marry. Ceolfric, the Abbot of Wearmouth in 
Bede's time, and Bede himself, and his friend Egbert, the 
Archbishop of York, are equally agreed in this. The words 
of Egbert are : " " Clerics not in holy orders may take wives, 
that is, neither presbyters nor deacons ; but priests must on 
no account take wives." " During more than two hundred 
and fifty years from the death of Augustine these laws re- 
specting clerical celibacy, so galling to the natural propen- 
sities of men, but so calculated to enforce an elevated idea 

^ Thorpe, ii.414, quoted by Lingard, p. 154. 
^ Liugard, Anglo-Saxons, i. i6l. 


of the sanctity which becomes the priesthood, were enforced 
with the strictest rigour ; but during part of the ninth and 
most of the tenth century, when the repeated and san- 
guinary devastations of the Danes threatened the destruction 
of the hierarchy no less than of the government, the ancient 
canons opposed bnt a feeble barrier to the impulse of the 
passions ; and of the clergy who escaped the swords of the 
invaders several scrupled not to violate the chastity which, 
at their ordination, they had vowed to observe. Yet even 
then the marriage of priests was never approved by the 
Saxon prelates, and as often as a transient gleam of tran- 
quillity invited them to turn their attention to the restora- 
tion of discipline, the prohibitions of former synods were 
revived, and the celibacy of the clergy was recommended 
by paternal exhortations, and enforced with the severest 

Our Saxon ancestors, in the century of their conversion 
by bishops and priests who were monks, far from imagining 
the presence of a woman in the house of a mass-priest, 
**made an improvement on the severity of the fathers 
assembled in the great Council of Nice, and even female 
relations were forbidden to dwell in the same house with 
a priest."^ Their books, still extant, say: "God's priests, 
and deacons, and God's other servants, that should serve in 
God's temple and touch the sacrament and the holy books, 
they shall always observe their chastity." " If any man in 
orders, bishop, priest, monk, or deacon, had his wife ere he 
were ordained, and forsook her for God's sake, and they 
afterwards return together again through lust, let each fast 
according to his order, as is written above with respect to 
murder." " If priest or deacon marry, let them lose their 
orders." ** To every servant of God, who should serve God 
in chastity, it is forbidden that he have in the house with 
him any relation or kind of woman for any kind of work, 
lest he, through temptation of the devil, sin therein." 

By these acts of legislation the Anglo-Saxons of Bede's 
time, specially the first Archbishop of York, who was chosen 
to inherit the dropped pallium of St. Paulinus, and from 

^ See Lingard, i. i6o, who quotes these passages in the Anglo-Saxon lan- 
guage from the authorities. 


whom the whole line of York descends through centuries, 
from age to age, receiving as he did from the Roman 
Pontiff his credentials, marked that it was one body with 
the whole Western Church, whose discipline in this most 
important point of priestly purity — the special sacerdotal 
mark and signet — it upheld and avowed. Of the twenty- 
four Popes who sat in the See of Peter between the first 
Gregory and the second, his like, and, in the judgment of 
Baronius, well-nigh his equal, there was no one more distin- 
guished than Sergius, who sat in the last thirteen years of 
the seventh century, and no one defended and fostered the 
young English Church more than Sergius. In his time 
Anglo-Saxon kings and princes made pilgrimages to Rome. 
If Wilfrid and Bennet Biscop between 650 and 660 risked 
their lives in doing this, as in those same ten years a Pope 
laid down his life by imperial judgment at Constantinople 
for defending the Christian faith in the person of Christ at 
Rome — if those two, both leaders and introducers of the 
Benedictine Order, were the first of their country to intro- 
duce this pilgrimage as an act of worship, it became in the 
last decade of the century, when Sergius sat in the papal 
chair, a not unusual act of piety. The fifth descendant of 
the once great Emperor Heraclius, the Emperor Justinian 11., 
had called a Council in the Dome Chamber of his palace, and 
as he had summoned it himself, so he arrogated the power 
to confirm it, whereas his father, the Emperor Constantine 
the Bearded, had but a few years before thought it the duty 
of Pope Agatho to convene the Sixth Council, and when he 
died begged Pope Leo II. to confirm it. But Justinian II. 
did not stop his innovations here ; not only did he sign his 
name in the imperial vermilion writing at the head of this 
Council, but under his own name he had lines written for 
what he esteemed his own five patriarchs ; and he sent the 
canons to Pope Sergius, requesting him to sign his name 
between that of the emperor and that of the Archbishop of 
Constantinople. In that year, 692, the three Eastern patri- 
archs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem had for fifty 
years fallen under Mohammedan domination. Among the 
canons which Justinian II. had first confirmed and then 
required Pope Sergius to sign, canons altering the ancient 


immemorial practice of the Chnrch respecting the celibacy of 
the clergy were introduced. By these canons ^ the continu- 
ing practice of their marriage, as it had been made before 
ordination, was allowed to priests, deacons, and other spiritual 
persons, and conjugal intercourse between them permitted, 
while to bishops such permission was not allowed. 

Pope Sergius refused the demand of Justinian II. to sign 
these Trullan canons of discipline. As a consequence, the 
emperor sent his chief guardsman to Rome with the charge 
to carry the resisting Pope to Constantinople, where the lot 
which had befallen his predecessor. Pope Martin, from the 
emperor's grandfather, Constans II., awaited him likewise. 
But people and army rallied round the Pope, and the guards- 
man had to fly for refuge under the Pope's bed in order 
to save his own life. It was the whole discipline of the 
Western Church which Pope Sergius saved in refusing his 
subscription to the demand of the Eastern emperor that 
he should assent to abuses introduced by this exclusively 
Eastern Council. Three years before, Cadwalla, the king of 
Wessex, had laid down his throne, and at thirty years of age 
came to Eome to receive baptism from this very Pope Ser- 
gius. He lived but a few days afterwards, and was buried 
in the atrium of St. Peter'a 

Thus the discipline respecting the marriage of the clergy, 
which the Anglo-Saxon canons attest, and which the Anglo- 
Saxon practice carried out for two hundred and fifty years 
after their Church was founded, was the universal rule of 
the Western Church, and bore the witness of a daughter to 
it. It comes as a pendant to that marvellous choice of the 
monastic life shown by both sexes of the Anglo-Saxon people 
in their first conversion, when the children of Odin became 
the children of Christ; and the race which in their old 
inherited patriarchal religion showed a multitude of captive 
women who sacrificed their life rather than their chastity 
under Roman cruelty, now produced such a flock of Christian 
converts, who embraced the life of Christ and His mother as 
no other Northern people showed. 

This maintenance of sacerdotal chastity was not the pecu- 
liar institute of one Pope, but the rule of all, brought down 

^ See Hergenrother, "Leben Photios," L 217. 



from the ancient fathers, belonging equally to Italy, France, 
Spain, and Ireland, as well as England, recognised in the 
penitentials of Archbishops Theodore at Canterbury and 
Egbert at York. England was converted in the seventh 
century mainly by monks and nuns, bub not at all by mar- 
ried priests, a degradation first introduced as a sequel of 
Danish massacres, and entailing the deepest dishonour on 
those who suffered themselves to fall under it. Every prac- 
tice of the ancient Church, from the Council of Nice onwards, 
was violated by such an ignoble presence in a priest's house- 
hold, instead of the deacon who attended on him, and the 
clerics who assisted the regular celebration of divine worship, 
and the seven hours of daily prayer in the district churches 
established by the bishop in proportion as the possessors of 
land were converted. 

Pope after pope, at the risk of life, resisted the attempt 
of the Byzantine emperors to force this alteration of the old 
discipline on them as guardians of the Western Church's 
rule of life. The guardsman of Justinian II. was not only 
foiled, but glad to escape with his life under the Pope's 
protection. But such disgrace in that time of seven revolu- 
tions, which all but destroyed the Byzantine throne, did not 
prevent the usurping emperor, Apsimar, ten years later, to 
commission another Exarch, by name Theophylact, to carry 
away Pope John VI. to Constantinople, that he might be 
indnced to give that consent to the Trullan canons which 
Pope Sergius had refused. This attempt also miscarried, 
through the energy of Italian troops defending the Pope. 
Again, in the very last days of the reign which Justinian II., 
"the man of the nose split," ^ had recovered, he summoned 
Pope Constantino in 710 to visit him. That Pope had at 
his right hand, as deacon and counsellor, his future successor, 
Gregory II., and the effort of the emperor to get the canons 
of his own unrecognised Council received again failed. Pope 
Constantino returned to Rome in safety, and thither pre- 
sently, by another usurper, the head of Justinian IL, having 
been cut off, was sent in a box to prove to all men that the 
race of Heraclius was extinct, having passed through five 
generations, in which the masters of Constantinople had lost 

^ Bhino-tmetos was bi» Greek appellatiojo. 


half their empire beneath the sway of a new religion, and 
that new religion, true to its own character, persecuted what 
remained with internecine hatred. Afterwards, when Leo 
III., the seventh in that series of emperors raised by revolu- 
tions, had for ten years exercised a stable anthority, he not 
only attempted to bend the resolution of that great Pope 
Gregory II. to maintain the existing rule of the Church as 
to the sacredness of the sacerdotal life, but five times tried 
to sacrifice the Pope's life, in which attempt every time 
he failed. It was through such perils that Sergius and 
the succeeding popes maintained intact that rule of the 
Western Church in accordance with which the conversion 
of England was brought about, chiefest and most by the 
exemplary sacrifice of both sexes in the Anglo-Saxon race 
when they embraced the monastic life, and then by the 
mass-priests placed by the bishops through their dioceses, 
who during centuries were faithful to their practice of 

Pope Sergius was a Sicilian monk of Palermo, a natural 
subject of the Eastern empire ; he was succeeded by John 
VI., another subject of the same ; and then by John VIL, 
a third subject ; fourthly, by Sisinnius, a Syrian ; fifthly, 
by Constantine, also a Syrian. These five popes lived in 
timefs of the utmost danger, and equally resisted those 
whom they esteemed their lawful emperors, and whom 
they obeyed in all which they considered lawful commands. 
Thus, Pope Constantine acceded to the imperial invitation 
to go to the emperor at Constantinople, that same emperor, 
be it remembered, who tried to carry off Pope Sergius into 
captivity, and when this failed tried to take his Ufa They 
all resisted the tampering of the emperor with the discipline 
of the Church in the important point of clerical celibacy, 
not as a new thing, but as it had come down from past 
ages. " No sooner had the succession of Christian princes 
secured the peace of the Church than laws were made to 
enforce that discipline which fervour had formerly intro- 
duced and upheld. The regulations of the canons were 
supported by the authority of the emperors ; by Theodosius 
the priest who presumed to marry was deprived of the 
clerical privileges i by Justinian his children were declared 


illegitimate." ^ These Popes were under that absolute rule 
over Italy which Justinian gained by conquest, and exer- 
cised by his institution of Exarchs. At this time that 
rule had gone on during a hundred and forty years, and 
had been the source of perpetual suffering and ignominy 
to Italy. 

Bede testifies to the important action of Pope Sergius 
on the English Church in other matters also. Cadwalla, 
king of Wessex, out of exceeding reverence to St. Peter, 
as Bede, in quoting his epitaph, writes, "left all for the 
love of God, that he might as a guest behold Peter and 
Peter's See, in his conversion changed rejoicingly his bar- 
barian rage, and with it his name, as Sergias the bishop 
ordered, naming him Peter, when himself his father in the 
fountain of regeneration." In the next year Archbishop 
Theodore died, and Beretwald, Abbot of Reculver, being 
chosen in his stead. Pope Sergius confirmed to him the 
primacy over all Britain. 

Just at the same time, the year 692, St. Willibrord, 
whom Wilfrid had received as a child and nurtured at 
Ripon,* made his pilgrimage to Rome, " that he might enter 
upon the work of evangelising the heathen, which he had 
longed after, with the permission and blessing of Sergius, 
then ruling in the Apostolic See. He hoped also to obtain 
from the Pope relics of apostles and martyrs, so that having 
destroyed the idols in the heathen nations to whom he was 
to preach, he might have ready relics of saints to put there 
in the churches which he would dedicate to them. He also 
desired either to learn there or to receive a great many 
things which a business of such magnitude required." In 
all these matters having obtained his wish, he returned to 
preach. His brethren in Frisia had selected Suidbert to 
be their bishop. He was sent to Britain, and Bishop 
Wilfrid, driven from his diocese at that time, was an exile 
in Mercia, and he consecrated Suidbert, because Archbishop 
Beretwald had not yet returned to his see, having gone 
abroad to be consecrated by the Gallic metropolitan, God- 
win. Suidbert carried on his episcopate in Frisia, and was 
given by Pepin, Mayor of the Palace, an island in the Rhine, 

^ LiDgard, i. 157. ' Bede, v. 11, p. 264. 


on wliich he built a monastery. There for some time he 
led a life of the greatest continence, and there he died. 

But Wilfrid's pupil and foster-child, Willibrord, was sent 
forward by Pepin to Rome/ where Sergius was still Pope, 
with the request that he might be consecrated bishop for 
the Frisian people. This was fulfilled in the year 696, 
when Pope Sergius consecrated him on St. Cecilia's day, in 
her own church, and changed his name to Clement. He 
stayed fourteen days in Rome, and was then sent back to 
his mission. "Now Pepin gave him for the seat of his 
cathedral an illustrious castle of his own, named Wiltburg, 
which in the Gallic language is called Trajectus (Utrecht). 
Here that most reverend pontiflF built a church, preaching 
far and wide the word of faith and recalling many from 
error. He built many churches in those regions and con- 
structed some monasteries. Afterwards he himself appointed 
other bishops in those regions out of the brethren who had 
come to preach either with him or after him, of whom some 
already sleep in the Lord. But Willibrord, sumamed 
Clement, venerable for his advanced age, for he is passing 
the thirty - sixth year of his episcopate (and Bede was 
writing this in 731), and after manifold struggles in his 
heavenly warfare, he is sighing with all his soul for the 
rewards of the divine remuneration." 

St. Willibrord survived long after these words of Bede, 
for St Boniface, who was not only his friend, but for some 
time partner in his mission, declares in his 97th letter,* 
that he was a missionary for fifty years, up to extreme 
old age. So that St. Willibrord during fifty years, from 
696 to 745, ten years after the death of Bede himself, 
was engaged in converting Frisia, in all which he executed 
his commission from Pope Sergius as Archbishop of Utrecht^ 
It was the hand of St. Willibrord, the Anglo-Saxon mis- 
sionary sent from Rome by Pope Sergius, which baptized 
in 714 Pepin, the son of Charles, the son of Pepin, Mayor 
of the Palace, that Charles Martel whom Pope Zacharias 
was to name Patricius of Rome, and that Pepin whom the 

1 Bede v. 1 1, p. 266. 

- See the Note 29 in Bede, p. 266. 

' Alban Butler's Life, on November 7. 


magnates of France exalted to be king in the stead of the 
degenerate Merovingian, according to the judgment of the 
same Pope Zacharias, and whom St. Boniface, named by him 
Archbishop of Mainz, crowned king of France in 752 at 
Soissons, inaugurating the Carlovingian monarchy, which 
was then farther consecrated by Pope Stephen at St. 

These are some acts of that Pope Sergius who defended 
the Church's liberty in maintaining the sanctity of her own 
ministry, who preserved England to be converted by monks 
and nuns and priests, such as the practice of many hundred 
years had already handed them down ; priests such as St. 
Augustine and his companions, such too as Bishop Aidan, 
and all those who were with him and his companion bishops 
from lona. To this conduct of Pope Sergius was due the 
unblemished glory of the first Anglo-Saxon century. 

But St. Willibrord was likewise the special link of con- 
nection between the two great men of purely Anglo-Saxon 
blood, one of whom was made from Rome the instrument 
of spreading the Benedictine rule for the conversion of 
England, and the other made equally from Rome the head 
and founder of that hierarchy to which Germany owes itself 
— St. Wilfrid and St. Boniface. 

The first appearance of St. Boniface at Rome was in the 
year 718, three years after the accession of Pope Gregory 
II., when the Emperor Leo III. had obtained full possession 
of the Byzantine crown. Gregory himself was of patrician 
blood, nourished in the old Roman traditions. He it is 
whose letters I have elsewhere quoted to that monarch, 
asserting the right of the Church to carry out her own wor- 
ship in venerating the images of our Lord, of His holy 
Mother, and of the saints and martyrs, which had come down 
through centuries, against the purpose to abolish them, which 
Leo had borrowed from his inveiglement in Jewish and 
Saracen impiety. But this was some ten years after the 
act which I am about to record. Gregory II. had two great 
purposes in view — one to keep the Italians in their duty 
to the emperor, while he would not sacrifice their rights 
nor give up the keys of Rome to the Lombards ; the other 
was to assure the Christian adoption of the youthful Northern 



nations.^ At this moment an Anglo-Saxon monk appeared 
in liis presence, drew forth from his mantle a letter from 
his bishop, Daniel of Winchester, and hnmbly waited for the 
answer. The Pope looked on him with cheerful counten- 
ance, gazing into him with smiling eyes. He heard from 
the account given to him that the name of the monk was 
Winfrid, that is, the Peace- winner ; that he was . nearly 
forty years of age ; that he was born at Kirton, in the king- 
dom of Wessex and county of Devon, and had been instructed 
in sacred and profane literature in the monasteries of Exeter 
and Nutschell. His repute for learning had caused him to 
be asked to teach in convents, and to be called to share in 
the counsels of bishops ; but he had already been drawn by 
that ardour for the mission abroad which had laid hold of 
Anglo-Saxon monasteries. He had gone to Frisia, but at 
that moment war had broken out between Rathbod the Duke 
and Charles Martel. The young missions had been dis- 
turbed and Winfrid went back to England. Now he came 
a second time abroad to visit Rome and have his vocation 
confirmed. The Pope, after frequent interviews, conferred 
on him full powers in the following words : * — " Gregory, 
servant of the servants of God, to the priest Winfrid. The 
pious purpose of your zeal, kindled with the love of Christ, 
and the proofs which you have given us of your faith, 
demand that we should call you to partake our ministry of 
dispensing the divine word. Learning then that from your 
childhood you have studied the sacred letters, and that, urged 
by the fear of God to make use of the talent intrusted to 
you, you went forth to diffuse among the unbelieving nations 
the mystery of the faith, we felicitate you upon your piety, 
and will aid you in this grace. Since, then, you have had 
the modesty to submit your desire to the advice of the 
Apostolic See, as a member which awaits its movement from 
the head directing the whole body, in the name of the in- 
divisible Trinity, by the immovable authority of the blessed 
Peter, prince of the Apostles, to dispense whose doctrine by 
authority is our office, we order that you carry the kingdom 

^ This narrative is drawn from Ozanam's Civilisation Chritienne chcz let 
Francs, vol. ii. p. 171. See the Letters of Gregory II, in Mansi. 
- Mansi, xii. 234. Ozanam's translation, with Bome correctiooa. 


of God to all the unbelieving nations which you shall be 
able to visit, and that you pour into these uncultivated souls 
the preaching of the two testaments with the spirit of virtue, 
love, and sobriety. Further, we will that you watch over 
the observance of the baptismal rite, according to the form 
which will be drawn up for your use by the chancery of the 
Holy See. Whatever you shall want, having once begun 
the work, take care to make known to us. Fare you well."^ 
This was given on the i Sth May, in the third year of the 
reign of the Emperor Leo. 

At this first visit Winfrid stayed long enough in Rome 
to make himself well familiar with the place, containing for 
him, a Northern of Teutonic blood, so many wonderful 
thoughts, a storehouse of the grace of God in past times, to 
which he was looking for further graces. Of these the words 
of the Pontiff were to him a guarantee. Winfrid had looked 
again and again on the loving countenance and smiling eyes 
of Gregory ; he had looked also on that statue of Peter in 
his own church which Leo the emperor afterwards wrote to 
the Pope ^he would abolish, and received the Pope's answer 
that all the nations of the West looked up to him as a god ; 
and Winfrid, as son of one of those nations, did what forty 
generations of men have done since his time. He laid on 
his head St. Peter's foot, as a sign that they did homage^ 
each in his day, to the living Vicar of Christ, in whom Christ 
reigns, and conquers, and commands. 

Then Winfrid, fortified by the Pope's word, went on his 
journey northward. In the capital of Lombardy, Pa via, King 
Liutprand, albeit that he longed for thirty years to get pos- 
session of Rome, received him hospitably, and bestowed gifts 
on him. Then Winfrid crossed the Alps and came down on 
Germany, his land of promise, the land which was to own 
bis influence from the source of the Rhine to its mouth, 
from the Alps to the Elbe's entrance into the Northern Sea. 
He passed through Bavaria, Thuringia, and Eastern France, 
carefully noting the peoples, according to the instructions 
of the Holy See. He found Frisia again, and Willibrord, 
its bishop, working in it with the favour of the people, now 

' This letter is given in Mansi's collection, vol. xii. p. 234. I have tran- 
■Uted Ozanam*! faithful rendering uf it. 


incliniDg to the Franks. Winfrid seconded the bishop dur- 
ing three years, as he was destroying pagan sanctuaries and 
raising churches. St. Willibrord wished Winfrid to share 
his episcopate, but from this Winfrid shrunk back. He 
rather chose to go on to nations still more wanting his aid. 
As he was stopping at a monastery near Trier, and expound- 
ing to the community a passage of Scripture during a repast, 
a young man of fifteen named Gregory, of royal descent and 
great hopes, was so enthralled by his words as to declare that 
he would never leave him, and became one of his most 
attached and distinguished disciples. Winfrid went on to 
Thuringia, a country then ravaged by wars, where he had 
to work with the labour of his hands. At length he suc- 
ceeded in gathering up some scattered Christians, in correct- 
ing the manners of the priests and the belief of the faithful. 
The peasants came to hear a man who spoke their language 
and ventured into their foresta Many became Christians; 
many deserted the idols to which they had fallen back. Two 
brothers, Detdie and Deorwulf, whom he had gained from 
paganism, gave him one of their lands called Amonaburg. 
There he built a church and a monastery. Next he advanced 
into Hesse, where he baptized several thousand barbarians 
just approaching the Saxon frontiers. He sent a disciple, 
Binne, to give account to the Sovereign PontifiF of the fruits 
obtained, after which he made a second mission to Home 

The Pope had invited him, and afler his coming received 
him in the Basilica of St. Peter's, heard from him all that 
he had done, and asked for his profession of faith. This 
Winfrid made up with great care, and wrote out. When 
the Pope learnt the great numbef of converts, and his urgent 
need for more assistance, he declared his intention to make 
Winfrid a regionary bishop, that is, without definite limit 
of jurisdiction, but having liberty to carry the faith where 
he should find men tit to receive it. On St. Andrew's Dav 
in 723, he consecrated Winfrid himself; and as he had 
changed a Saxon name before to Clement, so he changed 
Winfrid the Peace-giver into the equivalent Bonifaeius. In 
that name he shines as martyr in the Church's everlasting 
roll A certain oath had been taken since the time of Pope 


Gelasius, then more than two hundred years. This may be 
recorded as forming the future oath of the German hier- 
archy, and already forming that of the hierarchy in the 
English Church, more lately founded than Gelasius by St. 
Gregory. To the second of that name Boniface upon his 
consecration swore : ^ — 

" In the name of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 
in the sixth year of the Emperor Leo's consulate. I, Boni- 
face, by the grace of God bishop, promise to you, blessed 
Peter, prince of the Apostles, and to your vicar, blessed 
Pope Gregory, and his successors, by the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost, the indivisible Trinity, and by this, 
thy most sacred body, to keep the whole fidelity and purity 
of the Catholic faith, to persist by the help of God in the 
unity of that faith, on which all the salvation of Christians 
without doubt depends. I will in nothing at any one's per- 
suasion consent against the unity of the common and universal 
Church ; but, as I said, I will in all things show my fidelity 
and sincerity and agreement with you and the interests of 
your Church, to which the power of binding and loosing has 
been given by the Lord God, and to your aforesaid vicar 
and his successors. But if I come to know of any prelates 
acting against the ancient rules of the holy Fathers, I will 
hold with them no communion or intercourse, but rather, if 
it be in my power, prevent them ; if not, I will immediately 
report it faithfully to my Apostolic Lord. But if, which God 
forbid, 1 were to attempt to act in any way against this my 
promise, either by my own prompting or that of others, let 
me be found guilty at the eternal judgment, let me incur 
the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira, whose purpose 
was to defraud you of their own goods, or who ventured to 
tell a falsehood. This statement of my oath I, Boniface, 
humble bishop, have written by my own hand. I depose it 
on the most sacred body of St. Peter : so have I expressed, 
as prescribed, my oath, with God for my witness and judge, 
which I promise to keep." ^ 

From time to time, and through the ages, the Popes use 
a particular word to express the fabric of the Church's unity ; 
something within which all are safe, while without it they 

^ Mansf, zii. 235. ' Transcribed from Mansi, zii. 235. 


are liable to collapse and perish. That word is compages, or 
the structure. The engagement thus solemnly taken by 
each bishop at the time he is consecrated appears to me 
the most adequate fulfilment of this word and its meaning. 
It at once marks out what the Universal Church alone is, as 
well in its doctrine or mass of belief as in its material fabric 
or its communion. It equally marks out what every so- 
called national church is n^t. A national church may try 
to make such an engagement on the part of bishops a part 
of its discipline, substituting only for the spiritual head the 
temporal sovereign, and will term, it may be, the breaking 
such engagement on the part of an individual high treason. 
Or again, a sovereign enjoying the fulness of temporal 
power may act through what he shall choose to term a 
" Holy Synod," comprehending in itself bishops as well as 
laymen, but deriving from himself, and wielding under that 
name, his own imperial authority. But in both these cases 
the engagement belongs only to something of civil extent 
and right, and neither in the mass of doctrine nor in the 
material fabric concerns the Universal Church, and the 
person of him to whom that Church has been committed, 
with the power of binding and of loosing divinely bestowed. 
Thus we hear that bishops from Pope Gelasius, a.d. 492- 
496, to Pope Gregory II., a.d. 715— 7 31, took this oath; 
and the Church's coinpages lasted unbroken when new coun- 
tries such as Britain and Germany were taken into its fold. 
The living structure of minds preserved it whole. But when 
an attempt was made to attach the structure to the person 
of an earthly king, it broke up, until what had been unity, 
both mental and material, became a by-word of heresy and 
schism, in which literally every man claimed to have an 
opinion^ and no one went beyond an opinion ; and neither 
man, nor woman, nor child would submit to be taught the 
one creed of the Christian Church. 

But to the Anglo-Saxon monk, whom he named Boniface, 
together with the hand and word which conferred upon him 
the unction of bishop, and in return for his oath. Pope 
Greiiory II. gave protection, support, and counsel, and a 
book in which the canons of the Church were marked, and 
questions which Boniface, in the circle of his action, would 


have to eolve. He entered into the family of the Roman 
Pontiff, that brotherhood of all Christendom, which centres 
in his person and radiates from him. This privilege, in that 
year 723, Boniface received, and it was renewed to him 
continually under Popes Gregory III., Zacharias, and 
Stephen III. 

Pope Gregory 11. wrote six letters ^ intended to assist the 
new bishop in the work of converting the people to whom 
he should be sent. One was to Charles, already Mayor of 
the Palace, to whose dignity he recommends his brother 
Boniface, as approved in faith and morals, consecrated by 
him bishop, and instructed in the statutes of the Apostolic 
See, over which, by authority of God, he presides. Boniface 
is charged by him to preach to the peoples of the Germanic 
nation, to such as dwell on the eastern side of the Rhine, 
still in the error of heathenism or clouded over with igno- 
rance. He asks the protection of the Dake Charles against 
any enemy, " since you know," he adds, " that it is God to 
whom you will show this favour, who had foretold that He 
will consider Himself received by those who receive His 
apostles, marked out to bring light to the heathen.'' 

A fuller letter addressed by " Gregory the bishop, servant 
of the servants of God, to all bishops, priests, deacons, dukes, 
castellans, counts, or all Christians fearing God," begins : * 
" Moved by the great solicitude for the matter of thought 
put under our charge, we know that populations in parts of 
Germany, or on the east bank of the Rhine, are wandering 
in the shadow of death, under persuasion of the old enemy, 
and, with the seeming of Christians, are in slavery to the 
worship of idols, while others have not even the knowledge 
of God, nor have been washed by holy baptism, but as 
pagans, like brute beasts, do not recognise their own Maker ; 
and we have judged it necessary for the illumination of both 
these classes in the preaching of the true faith to send the 
bearer of these letters, Boniface, our most reverend brother 
and our colleague, as bishop, that he may inform them of 

^ These letters are to be found in Mansi, xii. 238-242. I have quoted from 
them in parts. 

' ** SoUcitudinem nimiam gerentes pro speculatione nobis creditse." — Mansi, 
xii. 238. 


the doctrine of this Apostolic See, that, out of love to our 
Lord Jesus Christ and reverence to His Apostles, you may 
receive and cherish hira, and supply his needs." 

In another letter to all the Thuringian people he tells 
them to obey Boniface as their bishop and honour him 
as a father, "for we have not sent him for any temporal 
lucre, but for the gain of your own souls." 

To all the people of the Old Saxons he writes: "Our 
brother and fellow-bishop, Boniface, is a faithful minister 
and fellow-servant in the Lord, whom I have sent to vou 
for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances, 
and console your hearts with his exhortation in Christ ; that 
you may be freed from diabolical deceit, and aggregated to 
the adoption of sons, and escaping eternal condemnatioD, 
may possess eternal life." 

Nor is the mission thus given to Boniface at all in- 
definite. In this, as in every case, the Holy See acts upon 
a certain rule and order, which as it had been carried out 
in Britain in the Church wherein Winfrid had been edu- 
cated, so it enjoined him to apply to the Old Saxon race to 
which he was approaching as St. Augustine had applied it 
to the New Saxons. 

In another letter, " Gregory the bishop, servant of the 
servants of God, sends greeting to his most beloved sons in 
the Lord, the clergy, the magistracy, and the commonalty of 
Thuringia. Making no delay to your well-directed desires, 
we have ordained as bishop for you our brother and fellow- 
bishop, Boniface. We have given him in charge never to 
make illicit ordinations, nor admit to sacred orders either 
one who has been twice married, or one who had married 
other than a virgin, or one illiterate, or one vitiated in any 
bodily part, or one who had undergone public penitence, 
or one liable to any municipal claims or any condition, and 
marked in consequence ; but if he find any such already, he 
must not advance them. He must on no account receive 
Africans, everywhere pretending to ecclesiastical orders, be- 
cause some of them are Manicheans, others often rebaptized. 
Let him be careful not to diminish, but rather increase 
church furniture, or whatever belongs to property. Out of 
the income of the Church, or the offerings of the faithful, 


let him make four parts — one to keep for himself, one to 
distribate to the clergy according to the business of their 
occupation, a third part to reserve for the poor and strangers, 
and a fourth for church buildings; of all which he will 
give an account to the divine judgment. Ordination of 
priests or deacons he will know are to be celebrated only 
on the fasts of the fourth, seventh, and tenth months, also 
at the beginning and middle of Lent on the Saturday even- 
ing. The sacrament of Holy Baptism must be given only 
at Easter and Pentecost, except when in urgent danger of 
death ; lest men should perish eternally, such remedies are 
to be supplied. Now you are to obey devotedly one who 
observes the precepts of our see, that the body of the 
Church may be blameless and approved, through Christ 
our Lord, who lives and reigns with God the Father 
Almighty for ever." This letter is dated in the seventh 
year of the Emperor Leo III., four years before the Icono- 
clast usurpation had broken out, but when the Saracens had 
already advanced into Spain. They show in living words 
how, at the beginning of the eighth century, the gaze of 
the Popes was fixed in hope and confidence on the Northern 
nations, and how they watched to provide them with certainty 
of doctrine and undeviating practice ; and that as Gregory 
the first sent a monk, the prior of his own monastery, from 
Rome to convert that branch of the Saxons which had 
conquered England, so Gregory the second sent another 
monk from England, a converted Anglo-Saxon, to convert 
the Old Saxons, still in the bosom of their forests, still, to 
use his own words, not knowing even their Maker. 

Thus he begs the Thuringians to give up idolatry, be- 
cause "the Son of God, Himself true God, came down 
from heaven, was made man, condescended to suffer and 
be crucified for us, was buried, and rose again, ascended, 
and charged His disciples to go and make disciples all 
nations. Therefore it is that we, desiring for you to rejoice 
for ever with us, where there is no end of joy, no sorrow, 
nor bitterness, send you our most holy brother Boniface to 
teach you the faith of Christ. Obey him, therefore, in all 
things, and honour him as your father; observe him and 
act, and jou will be safe, you and your sons, for ever ; build 


him likewise a house where he may dwell as your bishop, 
and churches wherein you may pray, that God may pardon 
your sins and give you eternal life." ^ 

If we reflect upon the contents of these Papal writings ^ 
issued in the year 723, being both letters of guidance and 
conveying full powers, we may note in them the constitu- 
tion of the German Church in its essential foundations. 
In these it has continued for more than eleven hundred 
years to our own days, with the blessing of God. These 
foundations are, first, the German Church is no national 
church, but is founded in the closest connection with the 
See of Peter. The German Apostle has sworn to him the 
closest unity in a solemn oath, and in a book given to 
him in his consecration as bishop received the statutes of 
the Universal Church as the norm of the constitution and 
government of the German Church. In the letters giving 
him full powers he received not only the charge to convert 
the heathen, but likewise to bring back to Catholic order 
Christians who had lapsed from it. Secondly, the German 
Church was to be not one divided from the State, but, with 
all its independence, to subsist as a community united with 
it for the maintenance of temporal protection. For this, 
Gregory II. recommended Bishop Boniface to the protection 
of Charles Martel, the Frank Mayor of the Palace, who 
then stood at the head of the Frank realm ; for this he 
recommended the Apostle of the Germans to the magnates 
of Thuringia. Thirdly, although the See of Peter could not 
then, in the yet undetermined ecclesiastical circumstances, 
mark out a definite diocese to Bishop Boniface, and so the 
Pope writes only in general to the German bishops that 
they should accept Boniface as their fellow -bishop and 
support him with everything necessary ; yet the future 
direction of the priraatial See of Boniface is already 
pointed out, since the Pope marks for him the lands of 
Germany lying eastward from the Ehine as his sphere, 
without nearer description, in opposition to Neustria and 
Bavaria, and in this the allowable national establishment 
of the German Church is prepared beforehand. 

^ Mansi, xii. 241, translated. 

' Winfrid Bonifacius, by Dr. von Gnss, p. 90, translated. 


Boniface left Rome with the Papal blessing in the year 
723, and went to the court of Charles Martel, presented 
to him the Pope's letter, and asked for his protection.^ He 
was kindly received by Charles, who gave him a letter of 
protection signed with his own hand and seal, and addressed 
to the bishops, dukes, counts, governors, ofiQcers, faithful, 
and friends. To these the Mayor of the Palace announced 
that he had taken Bishop Boniface under his strong pro- 
tection, and should any grievance against him arise wliich 
the law could not settle, he and his people should come to 
the court in peace and good condition, and no man should 
show him opposition or utter condemnation. 

The Christian faith had penetrated into Hesse, but was 
mixed up with remains of heathenism, offerings under sacred 
trees, foretellings, witchery, and enchantments. To meet 
all this ^ one speaking action of Boniface has been recorded 
for us, which is the more telling because of the light which 
it throws upon the ancestral religion then prevailing among 
the nations whose passage to the Christian faith we are now 
recording. The religion in Ireland when St. Patrick came, 
in England when St. Augustine came, in Germany when 
St. Boniface came, was a worship of the powers of Nature 
in woods and streams and fountains, in caves and hills, and 
in creatures supposed to haunt these, the offspring of men's 
kindled imagination. Now such a holy oak, which they 
called Thor s Oak or the Thunder Oak, stood in the parts 
where Boniface came. At the feast of Thor a great number 
of heathens had been drawn together. In the midst of 
these Boniface, attended by his disciples, appeared with axe 
in hand. He approached the gigantic tree and struck it ; 
scarcely had he dealt on it a few strokes when a gigantic 
wind arose, seized on the vast crown of the tree, and tore 
asunder the four great trunks into which it was divided. 
The tree fell to the ground, the heathen looked on astonished 
and paralysed with fear. Boniface had conquered their 
gods. They pressed round him for baptism. The Anglo- 
Saxon monk carried among them the decision of St. Gregory 
the Great to make what had been heathen sanctuaries into 

' Dr. Von Guss, p. 92, translated. 

' Ibidn p. 949 from Boniface's Ep. 13, Jaff^ 


Christian. What had taken place at Godmnndham in York- 
shire was repeated in Hesse. Boniface, with the counsel 
of his brethren, determined to build a house of prayer out 
of the four trunks of Thor's Oak, and this he consecrated 
in honour of St. Peter, announcing thereby his relationship 
and duty to St. Peter's See. " That man," said an old Life, 
" full of the Spirit of God, forthwith built renowned monas- 
teries and distinguished basilicas, and altars also for divine 
sacrifices, in the places whence he had expelled those vanities, 
and decreed that the name of the living God should be wor- 
shipped in the very spots where the natives had hitherto 
worshipped dead idols." A spot where Woden yielded to 
Christ in the preaching of St. Boniface was not far from 
where in after ages the beautiful church of Marburg should 
for centuries bear the shrine of that Elizabeth, the Hun- 
garian princess and Thuriugian duchess, whose charity 
carried her, a widow in the bloom of youthful beauty, to 
all the height of sanctity, to put off her royal robes for 
a nun's humble costume, and dying at twenty-four, to be 
held as the patroness of her country before the God whom 
she had served in His poor with the utmost devotion. 

The contest of Boniface with false believers and repro- 
bates who frequented the court of Charles Martel, as well 
as with unconverted heathen, was severe. He is believed 
to have built many more churches in provision for his thou- 
sands of believers than is recorded in certain history, and 
it is a historic fact that he chose spots to which the people 
in heathen times had had recourse. The Pope had re- 
peatedly enjoined him to build churches and monasteries, 
and in his letter to the Thuringians had recommended them 
to furnish him with dwellings. In his wandering life he 
would not yet need a stately cathedral, but such temporary 
structures as might serve for the nurture of his converts, and 
be of such a character as St. Benedict's son would choose. 

For help to his pastoral care he applied to England. He 
and his companions were no longer enough for his needs, and 
especially for education of the female sex he required nuns. 
The son of St. Benedict wrote to that Order, flourishing in 
England, and not in vain.^ He had since his departure 

^ Yon Gu88, pp. 107, III, 113. 


from England maintained a constant correspondence with 
prelates and monasteries. About the year 728 a number 
of learned monks bad been drawn to him to take part 
in the work of education. More numerous yet were the 
nuns, of whom Lioba, from the double monastery of Wim- 
burn, is famous. Boniface gave her as abbess the convent 
of Bischofsheim, which soon flourished under her guidance, 
and produced a crowd of abbesses and teachers for other 
houses. She won not only the affection of those under her 
rule, but the favour of the great, as of Pepin and his sons, 
of Hildegarde, the queen of Charlemagne. Boniface, with- 
out whose counsel she did nothing, esteemed her (who was 
also his kinswoman), so highly that he desired for her to be 
buried beside himself at Fulda. 

So a number of learned and devoted Anglo-Saxon monks 
and nuns laboured under direction of St. Boniface in Hesse, 
Thuringia, and Franconia for the regeneration of the Teuton 
race. He found liberal help from the great and rich for the 
foundations which he needed. He founded them all in union 
with the Boman Church. Even for such points of liturgy 
and discipline as he might himself decide by his weight as 
bishop he consulted the Holy See, to silence by such autho- 
rity those who sought to make division. St. Boniface sent 
a number of such questions, giving information of the pro- 
gress of his mission, by a priest to Pope Gregory II., who 
answered him on November 22, 726. 

Pope Gregory II., who so greatly furthered the conversion 
of Germany, ended a glorious pontificate in February 731. 
His successor, Gregory III., was chosen unanimously at the 
funeral. Boniface immediately sent him a deputation, and 
besought a succession of the favour which had attended him, 
and a continuance of all those good works which Gregory II. 
had given him instruction to execute. At the same time 
he informed the Pope of the work of conversion going on. 
We have four letters of the Pope which bear witness to his 
reply.^ One is thus addressed : — " Gregory, servant of the 
servants of God, to our most reverend and holy brother 
Boniface, our colleague as bishop, sent by this holy Apostolic 
See to illuminate the nation of Germany, or the nations 

^ Mansi, xii. 277-282. 


dwelling all about in the shadow of death, lying i^ error. 
Great was our congratulation, on reading the letter of your 
most holy brotherhood, to find that many had been turned 
by you, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, from 
gentilehood and error to the knowledge of the true faith. 
And as we are taught by the divine instruction in parables 
that he to whom five talents were intrusted gained also other 
five, we applaud, with the whole Church, gain in such com- 
merce. Therefore of right have we sent you the gift of the 
sacred pallium, that, receiving this, you may clothe yourself 
with the authority of blessed Peter the Apostle ; and we order 
that, by God's will, you be ranked as one of the archbishops." 
He then enjoins that this be used either in saying mass or 
in consecrating a bishop, and that as numbers increase, " you 
be bound by rigour of the Apostolic See to ordain bishops, 
with religious care that the episcopal dignity do not become 
common." Another letter is addressed to all bishops, 
priests, and abbots, begging them to receive " our brother 
bishop Boniface, who was sent by our predecessor Gregory, 
the bishop of holy memory, to preach in the parts of Ger- 
many: let your love bestow aid upon him for the sake of 
Christ, acknowledging His promise given in those words, 
* He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall 
receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a just man 
in the name of a just man shall receive a just man's re- 
ward.'" A third letter, addressed to all the chiefs and 
people of the provinces of Germany, reminds them that the 
Pope has renewed the charge given to Boniface, and begs 
them to receive in the Church's ministry the bishops and 
priests whom Boniface ordains by the apostolic authority 
committed to him. It charges them also to abstain from 
all heathen worship, diviners, soothsayers, sacrifices of the 
dead, auguries from groves or fountains, phylacteries, incan- 
tations, poisoners, ill-doers, and sacrilegious observances, such 
as take place in your regions. A fourth letter is addressed 
to the bishops of the provinces of Bavaria and Allemannia. 
Its purpose is that they should fittingly receive Boniface as 
representing the Apostolic See. " For it is fitting that you 
know that our brother and fellow-bishop Boniface, bearing 
our place, should be received with due honour in the name 


of Christ ; that you should take up from him and worthily 
hold the ecclesiastical ministry with the Catholic faith, ac- 
cording to the custom and norm of the Holy Catholic and 
Apostolic Church of God, over which, by the pre-eminent 
grace of God, we preside, as by apostolical authority he has 
been marked out by us." " That wherever he charges you 
to meet for the celebration of councils, whether on the 
banks of the Danube or in the city of Augsburg, or wher- 
ever he think fit, you be found ready, in the name of Christ, 
that we may learn by his mandate of your meeting." 

It is to be noted that Pope Gregory III. thus appointed 
Boniface archbishop and bestowed on him the pallium just 
at the same time, a.d. 732, that he raised Egbert, brother 
of the king of Northumbria, to whom Bede dedicated his 
History, to be Archbishop of York, thus restoring, after a 
hundred years* interval, the design which Gregory the Great 
had originally intended at the time of sending St. Augus- 
tina The pallium of York is specially due first to the Pope 
who made Canterbury, and secondly to the Pope who made 
the primacy of Germany.^ Thus Boniface, the Anglo-Saxon 
convert, who, with the pallium given at Rome, founded the 
Sees of German bishops in Bavaria and Allemannia, and him- 
self became their primate in Mainz, was a Roman missionary. 
By his hand Rome constructed the hierarchy which made 
Germany one nation, and his see retained its primacy for 
more than a thousand years. So Rome sent the monk who 
became Archbishop of Canterbury by mission of the first 
Gregory, and, by his prevision, led the English hierarchy 
for nine hundred years. 

It would seem that Boniface did not, for some years, 
exercise all the authority of founding sees thus given to 
him in 732. Perhaps the wars in which Charles Martel 
was engaged, and other incidents, caused him to delay this 
placing bishops where the number of Christians required 
them, until his third journey to Rome, in 738.^ Boniface 
was then approaching sixty years of age ; he had never 
personally met Pope Gregory III. He now came with a 
large train of clergy to consult the apostolic authority on all 
matters which concerned him as legate of the Holy See. 

* Von GosB, p. 135. } Hergenrother, i. 467. 


The Pope received him with honour, and he stayed a longer 
time communicating his designs for organising the Franco- 
German Church, visiting also the holy places and the tombs 
of martyrs, and commending his own churches to their 

When he left Rome in 739, he took with him Papal 
letters in which also the bishops of Bavaria and AUemannia 
were invited to meet him in a synod. Duke Odilo invited 
him to Bavaria, which he divided into four bishoprics — 
Salzburg and Freiting, and Regensbarg and Passau. Then 
in Thuringia and Hesse he established, in 741, four bishop- 
rics — Wiirzburg, Buraburg, Erfurt, and Eichstatt. For the 
first three he asked and obtained the confirmation of Pope 

In one year, 741, the three great actors in human events 
were taken away — the second last emperor, Leo III., in 
June ; Charles Martel, the Mayor of the Palace, who wielded 
the whole Frank power, in October ; and in November, Pope 
Gregory III., whose wisdom and courage during ten years 
had maintained, without faltering, the unequal confiict with 
the wickedness and cruelty of the Byzantine, The Lombard 
King Luitprand was on the point of seizing Rome when 
Pope Zacharias was chosen and consecrated the same day, 
without waiting for the approval of either exarch or emperor. 
This was the third of the three great Popes who placed the 
utmost confidence in St. Boniface. He, as legate of the 
Holy See, worked for the unity of Germany by holding 
councils both in Germany and in France in concert with 
Pepin and Carlomann, who, as Mayors of the Palace in 
Austrasia and Neustria, had succeeded to the power of their 
father, Charles Martel, when he died Duke of the Franks. 
His military rule had not been favourable to Church order, 
and Boniface had to write to Pope Zacharias that for eighty 
years no national or provincial council could be held in the 
realm of the Franks. During this time it is doubtful whether 
even diocesan councils had been held in the Church's pro- 
vinces of Mainz, Cologne, and Trier. In Bavaria, Boniface 
had already, in 740, worked in unity with the Duke Odilo, 
so that by direction of the Holy See he had held a council. 
Carlomann, in the first year of his government, had invited 


Boniface to him, and besought him to hold a council in his 

We possess the letters which Boniface addressed to Pope 
Zacharias, and the answers which the Pope sent to them. 
They are full of instruction as to the terrible hazards which 
beset the Church as the kingdom of Christ, and human 
society itself at that time. 

These are the words in which our countryman, Winfrid, 
the Anglo-Saxon of Devonshire, addresses at his accession 
the ninety-third Pope, who was a Greek by descent, but born 
in Calabria, a subject of the Eastern emperor, like nine other 
Popes preceding him from the accession of Pope Agatho. 
Zacharias, in the providence of God not known to Boniface 
when he thus wrote, was to be the last of the subject Popes, 
and to be succeeded by pontiff-kings.^ 

"We confess, O Lord and Father, that since we have 
heard by messengers how Gregory, pontiff of the Apostolic 
See, of venerable memory, the predecessor of your aposto- 
late, was delivered from the bondage of the body, and 
departed to the Lord, we have not heard of greater joy and 
gladness, for which, with outstretched hands, we give God 
thanks, than that the most high Arbiter has granted your 
benignant Fatherhood to rule the system of canonical law 
and to direct the helm of the Apostolic See.^ Therefore, as 
bowing our knees before your feet, we earnestly entreat, 
that like as we have been devoted servants and subject 
disciples of your predecessors, in behoof of St. Peter's 
authority, so we may merit to be servants and obedient 
subjects of your piety and tender rule of the canons. Thus 
we hope to preserve and spread the Catholic faith and the 
unity of the Roman Church, and to invite and incline to 
obedience to the Apostolic See whatever hearers and dis- 
ciples God may give me in this my office of legate." 

Next he declares to the Pope that he has founded three 
episcopal sees in Germany, of Wtirzburg, Buraburg, and 
Erfurt, which he begs to be confirmed by the authority of 
his apostolate. He proceeds : — 

' Mansi, xii. 312. 

' **Quod clemeiitem pateraitatem vestram altiMimus arbiter canon ica jura 
reg^re tt apodtolicsD sedis gubernacula tene: e couceiisit^" 



" Be it likewise known to your Fatherhood that Carlo- 
mann, Duke of the Franks, sent for me, and besought me 
for that part of the kingdom of the Franks which is in his 
power to begin to collect a synod, and promised me, con- 
cerning his wish, to correct and amend somewhat of the 
Church's religion, which now, for a long time, that is, not 
less than sixty or seventy years, has been trodden under 
foot and scattered. If he have the will, by God's inspira- 
tion, to fulfil this, I need to have and to know the counsel 
and the command of your holy authority, that is, of the 
Apostolic See. For the Franks, as elders say, for more 
than eighty years have not held a synod nor had an arch- 
bishop, nor founded anywhere or renewed the canonical 
rights of the Church." 

Then he proceeds to expose at length the ruinous and 
scandalous disorders which had infected sees far and wide, 
and if he is to meet and remedy these, which involve the 
€kcts of bishops, as well as of all orders inferior to them, he 
says, '* Because I am known to be the servant and the legate 
of the Apostolic See, my word here and yours there must 
be one and the same." He asks that the authority given 
to him by Pope Gregory III., to name his own successor, 
may be repeated by Pope Zacharias, as will be seen presently 
to have been done. He goes on even to represent scandals 
which were said to have been seen at Rome, and which he 
entreats the Pope not to allow. 

The Pope sent a detailed answer to this letter. It is 
addressed, " To our most reverend and holy brother Boni- 
face, the Bishop Zacharias, servant of the servants of God." ^ 

In the first place, he confirms the establishment of bishops 
in the three cities mentioned by Boniface. Next, "as to 
the request of Carlomann, our son, to you, to hold a synod 
in a city of his dominions, because all ecclesiastical rule or 
discipline has been utterly abolished in that province, which 
is too deplorable, because through a long time no synod of 
bishops^ has been held, this we wilUngly grant, and order 
to take place. For neither what is priesthood,' nor what is 
done by those who call themselves priests,^ is known." 

As to the third point he writes, " When you sit in the 

^ Mansi, xii. 316. ' Sacerdotum, sacerdotium. 


conncil, with Carlomann beside you, whatever may be the 
rank of the delinqaents set before you, whatever ecclesia- 
stical rule you see them to have exceeded, have the canons 
and statutes of the Fathers in your hands, and determined 
according to what you are taught by them." 

As to his request to be allowed to appoint a successor 
in his lifetime, the Pope could only allow it when death 
appeared instant, and he might then send such an one to 
be ordained at Rome. " This we allow to no one else, which 
under stress of charity we have thought fit to grant you." 

In another letter,^ written after the council held by Boni- 
face, the Pope says : " You have shown us how God has 
touched the hearts of our most excellent sons, Pepin and 
Carlomann, that by divine inspiration they strove to be your 
companions and aids in preaching;" and he sends the 
pallium for the three metropolitans at Eouen, Rheims, and 
Sens, whom Boniface had appointed And in a third letter, 
in reply to the question whether Boniface had the right of 
preaching in Bavaria, which Pope Gregory III. had given 
him, Pope Zacharias writes : " We do not diminish but in- 
crease what our predecessor granted, and not only in Bavaria, 
but likewise in the whole of the Gauls ; so long as the 
Divine Majesty continues your life the office of preaching 
as our legate is laid upon you ; study to reform spiritually 
to the rule of rectitude anything that you find contrary to 
the Christian religion or the statutes of the canons." 

Perhaps the authority which Pope Zacharias was then 
exercising in the Frank realm, and the confidence which he 
bestowed on Boniface as his legate, are most amply shown 
in the answer which at this time the Pope addressed to the 
questions submitted to him by Pepin, Mayor of the Palace. 
It is in the year 744 ; the Pope still cites the year of the 
reigning Eastern emperor, in sign of being his subject. The 
address runs : " To the most excellent and Christian lord, 
Pepin, Mayor of the Palace ; to all the most beloved bishops 
of churches; to the religious abbots; and to all princes 
seated in the region of the Franks, who fear God : Zacharias, 
Bishop of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church, 
sends greeting in the Lord. Grace and peace be ministered 

^ Mansi, xii. 322, 325. 


unto you by God the Father Almighty, by our Lord Jesus 
Christ His only Son, and by the Holy Spirit/' 

The Pope says : " As our aforesaid son, Pepin, after con- 
sultation with you, has requested of Us to give an answer to 
all the heads mentioned, We have set forth in our answer what 
by God's inspiration We are able by apostolic authority to 
decree, according to what We hold as handed down from the 
holy fathers and sanctioned by authority of the sacred canons." 

The Pope, in the twenty-seven headings which follow, 
treats of what concerns the ecclesiastical life in all ranks, 
from metropolitans downwards, in monks and nuns, in widows, 
in what concerns marriage, and the faults therein of which 
men or women are guilty. In these documents, bishops, 
priests, and deacons who were married before they received 
orders, according to the ancient rule, may not continue the 
married life, and if they do, are to be removed from ecclesi- 
astical office. Other clerics are not so compelled, but the 
custom of each church to be observed. 

The scrutiny of the Pope, therefore, as asked for by the 
Mayor of the Palace, with the bishops, abbots, and lay 
princes who joined in his request, touched the most secret 
springs of life. And when, a few years later, the Mayor 
of the Palace put before the Pope the solution of a question 
importing the utmost moment both to himself and to France, 
as to whether it was lawful to change the deputed authority 
of a great subject, who wielded, in fact, the whole power 
of the State, into the supreme authority of a sovereign who 
enjoyed the title without exercising the duty, it is plain 
that he went to one whose position was already acknow- 
ledged as equal to the weight which was put upon his 
judgment ; while the connection of Pope Gregory III. with 
his father, Charies Martel, in sending him the keys of St 
Peter's sepulchre, justified the application; and again the 
complete assent with which the judgment was accepted and 
acted upon bore witness to the need which called it forth. 
Both the answer to the questions in the document just 
quoted, and the decision which moved the magnates of 
France to take the Carlovingian instead of the Merovingian 
race for their ruler, attest the completeness of the Papal 
authority in Gaul before the Byzantine despotism then 



pressing on the Pope had been relinquished. In another 
letter to Boniface at this time^ the Pope speaks of that 
intimate bond of charity by which, though absent in body, 
he is ever with him in spirit. He refers to the decisions 
which Pepin, as Mayor of the Palace, had requested him 
to send respecting the sacerdotal order and the salvation 
of souls. Though Boniface was already instructed as to 
what he had decreed, still he had complied with Pepin's 
request. He desired these " apostolic documents " to be 
read before the council of bishops in the presence of Boni- 
face, to whose direction he commits the matters in question. 
" Act, therefore, most beloved brother, in the ministry com- 
mitted to you ; receiving from Almighty God the reward of 
your work, may you attain eternal life." 

In a letter to a number of bishops,^ among whom are 
those of Rouen, Spires, Wurzburg, Meaux, Cologne, Stras- 
burg, he says, "You have in our stead to confirm your 
affection, and work together with you for the Gospel of 
Christ, our most holy and reverent brother. Archbishop 
Boniface, legate of the Apostolic See." 

Already, on the 21st April 741,* Boniface had held the 
first council of Germans, at which the new bishops of Wiirz- 
burg, Buraburg, and Eichstatt attended, as well as the bishops 
of Cologne and Strasburg, and others. Great reforms were 
here enacted. Another council was held at Leptino, still 
farther extending these reforming enactments. Boniface 
had, in agreement with Pepin, carried his activity also 
into Neustria, where the metropolitan authority had been 
almost extinguished, and provincial synods interrupted for 
eighty years. Boniface replaced the metropolitans at Rouen, 
Rheims, and Sens. Boniface, as legate of the Holy See, 
held in March 744 a great council at Soissons of twenty- 
three bishops, whose canons were also published as civil law. 
Of these the Apostle of the Germans sent a report to the 
Pope, and asked of him instruction and direction, besides 
their confirmation.^ 

* Ep. viii., Mansi, xii. 334. ' Ep. xi., Mansi, xiL 344. 

* The facts following are drawn from Hergenrother, 467-4691 with frequent 

* Hergenrother, p. 469, translated. 


Boniface undertook nothing without the Papal Chair; he 
took counsel of it not only in important, but in propor- 
tionately slight matters. Herein his reverence for St. 
Peter's Chair, his sense of his own humility, the example 
of the Apostle of England, Augustine, worked upon him. 
Further, the diflSculty of his position, the many who opposed 
him, not only with heathen errors, but with Arian also. 
The questions of the great archbishop to four different 
Popes touched on the most various subjects. 

Boniface, by a resolution of the spiritual and civil powers 
together,^ received in 746 Mainz as the seat of his metro- 
politan dignity instead of Cologne. This new metropolis, 
confirmed by the Pope in 748, had under it the bishops of 
Utrecht, Tongem, Cologne, Worms, Speier, Augsburg, Chor, 
Constance, Strasburg, Wiirzburg, Eichstatt, Buraburg, and 

The poor monk who, thirty years before, quitted Fries- 
land after fruitless labour, had as spiritual father won great 
populations for the gospel by his courage, his trust in God, 
his unwearied work. He was archbishop and papal legate, 
with extended powers over both Austrasia and Neustria, 
He had converted numberless heathen, organised the Church, 
abolished many abuses, restored the holding of councils in 
the Frank realm, and laid the foundation for morality and 
civilisation among the Germans. But all his life was one 
unbroken series of toils and struggles. Seducers of the 
people, teachers of false doctrine, criminal priests, jealous 
and ambitious bishops encompassed and hindered his path. 
Much which he had built up was cast down. That did not 
frighten him. He built up again what had been cast down. 
He overcame all obstacles by endurance. He restored union, 
and sought to secure firm structure to his foundations ; to 
protect bishops from the robbing and mishandling of the 
worldly great, both by binding them closely together with 
the head of the Church and with the Frank kingdom. To 
that kingdom he gave fresh lustre by carrying out the 
decision, which only the authority of the Holy See enabled 
Pope Zacharias to give, when he pronounced that the race 
of Clovis, having held the crown of the Franks since 486, 

^ Hergenrother, p, 470, translated. 


iniglit in its utter degeneracy be made to yield to that 
better race which for more than a generation had borne 
its burden. So the Papal legate, who had been trusted by 
four Popes, and had conveyed to them all the sorrows and 
trials of the people which he was called to instruct, executed 
the mandate of the nobles of France, and crowned at Soissons 
in 752 Pepin, Mayor of the Palace, as Charles Martel his 
father, and Pepin d'Heristal his grandfather, had been. 
And Pepin, according to the ancestral ceremony in electing 
the king, was thrice carried on the royal shield around the 
ranks of his electors, and became what Pope Zacharias had 
declared that he might be, and what Clovis had been — 
King of the Franks. 

Among all the deeds of Boniface in the thirty-seven years 
of his apostleship, from 718 to 755, I would note his devo- 
tion to the monastic order in both sexes. He chose them 
to make his labours faithful. At first he carried with him 
Anglo-Saxons, both monks and nuns, who followed him out 
of devotion, and placed themselves at his command. They 
served his schools, they attracted his converts, they taught 
his doctrine. He called to him successive troops of them 
from his own country; no less he drew them from those 
to whom he preached. He made Lioba, his English kins- 
woman, from her abbey at Wimbum, an abbess in Ger- 
many. So one of his happiest scholars' was Sturm, a 
noble youth from Bavaria, whom his parents had given to 
him for education. Abbot Wigbert of Fretzlar had formed 
him, and then he was made a priest. It was the wish of 
his heart to have a monastery of his own. Boniface en- 
couraged this wish, for he considered monasteries as colonies 
on ground scarcely won, fortresses in newly converted dis- 
tricts, workshops and centres for new undertakings. He 
sent Sturm with two companions into the desert of Buchonia 
to find a suitable place for the desired monastery. Fulda 
was the result. After a long search, he found a spot of 
which Boniface approved. Sturm became abbot of the new 
house, which became to Boniface his favourite sojourn, where 
he could find refreshment in his many toils. The monks 
kept severely St. Benedict's rule. At Sturm's death in 

^ Hergenrbther, i. 470, translated. 


799, the monastery had four hnndred members beside the 
novices. Falda was the most effective place of education 
for the German clergy, and rivalled St. Gall and Reichenau 
in piety, knowledge, and art. Here was a rich seminary 
for future harvest. 

Boniface did for St. Benedict in Germany at least as much 
as St. Wilfrid did in England. He made the children of 
the patriarch his brethren and his sisters, his companions 
and fellow-labourers in life and in death. 

But the man who surrounded himself with men and 
women of Anglo-Saxon race in his work of preaching 
abroad did not forget his country at home. He who was 
legate over France bent the same watchful eyes over the 
course of the Church in England. Throughout the whole 
of his career he had kept a most constant intercourse with 
the prelates and monasteries in England, and in 746 he 
addressed a letter to Cuthbert, then Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, in consequence of which that archbishop called a 
council at Cloveshoe. At this council he presided, and it 
was attended by all the bishops of England, and by Ethel- 
bald, king of Mercia, with his chief dukes.^ The Archbishop 
presiding brought before them " letters of the Pontiff, the 
Apostolic Ix)rd, Zacharias, venerable in the whole world, 
which were read with great diligence, as by his apostolical 
authority he commanded, and were plainly recited first in 
Latin, then in our own tongue. In these that illustrious 
Pontiff warned familiarly the inhabitants of every rank and 
condition in this our British island, and lovingly entreated 
them ; while he declared that the sentence of anathema 
would fall on those who despised what he said, and per- 
sisted in ill-doing. After reading the admonition contained 
in these words, the bishops, who are set by God over others 
to teach with authority, fell to mutual exhortation, and 
considered their own office of instructing others in the 
serving of God, as set forth in the bright mirror of the 
blessed Father Gregory's homilies and the canonical decrees 
of the holy fathers." 

It is not possible for the archbishop, the bishops, and 
the king and nobles of a country to show a more complete 

^ See Mansi, xiL 395 ; and Lingard, i. iii. 


recognition of tlie supreme authority of the Pope than did 
they who convened and attended this council. " They enacted 
thirty-two canons of discipline for the reform of the clerical 
and monastic bodies, the greater uniformity and regularity 
of the public worship, and the general encouragement of 
piety and devotion." ^ 

In the letter which led to the convocation of this council, 
this is what an Archbishop of Mainz, in the middle of the 
eighth century, writes to an Archbishop of Canterbury. He 
is giving an account of a meeting of his suffragan bishops 
just held at Mainz. "There lies upon us a greater solici- 
tude for churches, and care of their populations, than upon 
other bishops, on account of the palliums intrusted to us 
and received, while they are only charged with their own 
dioceses. Now in our synodical assembly we decreed and 
confessed that it was our will to maintain to the end of 
our life the Catholic faith and unity, and submission to 
the Boman Church ; that it was our will to be subject 
to St. Peter and his vicar; to convoke a synod every year; 
that metropolitans should ask for their pallium from that 
see, and in all things desire canonically to follow the com- 
mands of Peter, that we may be numbered among the 
sheep of his charge. And we all agreed to that confes- 
sion, and subscribed and sent it to the body of St. Peter, 
prince of the Apostles, which the clergy and Roman pontift 
received with gratulation. We ordered that every year the 
decrees of the canons, and the rules of the Church, and the 
norm of the regular life should be read in synod and be 
received. We decreed that the metropolitan who had been 
exalted by the pallium should exhort the rest, admonish 
and inquire who is careful for the salvation of the people, 
or who a negligent servant of God. We forbade huntings, 
chasing with dogs in woods, and keeping hawks and falcons. 
We ordered that every year every presbyter should give in 
Lent an account of his ministry to his bishop, whether about 
the Catholic faith, or about baptism, or about the whole 
order of his ministry. We ordered that every year each 
bishop should carefully visit his diocese, confirm the people, 
teach the whole mass of them, inquire into and prohibit pagan 

^ Liugard, L 112. 


observances, diviners or soothsayers, auguries, phylacteries; 
incantations, or all Gentile filthiness. We interdicted the 
servants of God from wearing pompous dress, wariike habili- 
ments, or arms. We ordered that it belongs to the metro- 
politan, as appointed in the canons, to investigate the conduct 
of the bishops subject to him, and that of their people. He 
is to advise the bishops, when they come from a synod, that 
by meeting in their own diocese the presbyters and abbots 
they make known and charge them to observe the precepts 
of the synod. And each bishop, if unable to correct or 
amend anything in his own diocese, should lay it in the 
synod for correction, before the archbishop and all openly, 
just as the Roman Church, when we were consecrated, 
bound us even by oath,^ that if I should see bishops or 
people deviating from the law of God, and should be unable 
to correct them, I should always faithfully point them out 
to the Apostolic See and the Vicar of St. Peter for emenda- 
tion. For thus, if I mistake not, all bishops are bound to 
make known to their metropolitan, and he to the Eoman 
pontiff, anything for the correction of their people which is 
impossible for themselves. And so they will be free from 
the blood of lost souls." 

This statement of St. Boniface, solemnly made to the 
Archbishop of Canterbury of his day, is more than a hundred 
years before the false Decretals appeared. It has been the 
fashion of some to attribute to them an increase of Papal 
authority which existed long before them. This letter tes- 
tifies the anachronism which they have committed. 

Boniface had no rest in his great activity as preacher of 
the faith, as founder of new churches and monasteries, as 
metropolitan of thirteen bishops, as restorer of the lapsed 
ecclesiastical order of things.^ One thing especially tried 
him as his years increased — the number of disciples whom 
he had drawn from the cloisters of England, whom he would 
leave exposed to all the risk of exile and persecution among 
a half-barbarous people.^ He wrote to Fnlrad, Abbot of 

' A reference to the episcopal oath, as given above. 
2 Hergenrother, p. 471, translated. 

^ Ozanam, ii. 212, drawn from the letters of St. Boniface to Fulrad, tran- 


St. Denys, and counsellor of Pepin, in these terms : — " I 
conjure you, in the name of Christ, to accomplish the work 
which yon have begun, that is, to salute in my name our 
glorious and amiable King Pepin, to thank him for all the 
charitable works which he has done for me, and to tell him 
that it seems probable to me and to my friends that my 
infirmities will soon put an end to my temporal life. There- 
fore supplicate our great king, in the name of Christ the 
Son of God, to kindly inform me, while I am still alive, 
what he intends to order for my disciples after me. For 
almost all are foreigners, and many are priests, and charged 
in many places with the serving of churches. Others lead 
the religious life in monasteries, and have been destined 
from their childhood to the teaching of letters. There are 
also old men who have long laboured with me. They all 
cause my disquietude, and I desire that after my death they 
may have the advice and protection of your piety, and be not 
scattered like sheep without a shepherd, and that the people 
who touch the pagan frontiers may not loose the law of 
Christ. I therefore earnestly pray you, if God will, and your 
clemency approve, to have instituted in this charge of people 
and churches my dear son and fellow-bishop, Lull ; and I 
hope, if God will, that the priests will find in him their 
superior, the monks a doctor of the rule, and the Christian 
people a faithful preacher and pastor. I urge it specially 
because my priests on the frontier of the heathen lead a 
very poor life. They have bread, but they cannot find 
clothes, nor maintain themselves in these spots for the good 
of their people, if they have not advice and support, as I 
have endeavoured to give them. If the piety of Christ 
inspire you to consent to my prayer, please to inform me 
by my own messengers or by your letters, that so by your 
kindness I may rejoice, whether I live or die." 

He obtained from Pope Stephen III. and King Pepin 
permission to cede his archbishopric to his beloved Anglo- 
Saxon disciple Lull, and gave to him the entire charge, 
especially to complete the Thuringian churches and to build 
a basilica at Fulda. " For me, I shall begin my journey, 
for the day of my departure is approaching. I desire to 
go, and nothing can turn me from it. Therefore, my son, 


prepare everything, and place in the chest of my books the 
shroud which shall cover my old body."^ He took with 
him the Bishop Eoban of Utrecht, the priests Walter and 
Win trig, the deacons Hamund, Skirbald, and Bosa, and the 
monks Waccar, Gundwaccar, lUesher, and Bathowulf, and 
all went together down the Rhine to Utrecht. After resting 
a while, they began to evangelise the country, and many 
thousand men, women, and children received baptism. One 
day, the Sth of June, the Archbishop's tent had been planted 
near Dockum, on the banks of the Burda, separating Eastern 
from Western Friesland. The altar had been prepared, and 
the holy vessels for the sacrifice, for a great number had 
been called together to receive confirmation. After sunrise 
a rout of barbarians, armed with lance and shield, suddenly 
broke into the plain and fell on the camp. They had sworn 
together to kill the enemy of their gods. The servants seized 
their arms and prepared to defend their masters. But the 
Archbishop in the first tumult of the attack came out of 
the tent surrounded by his clergy, carrying the reliques, 
which never left him. "Give up the struggle, my chil- 
dren," he said ; " remember that the Scripture teaches us 
to return good for evil. For this day is what I have long 
desired, and the hour of our deliverance is come. Be strong 
in the Lord ; hope in Him, and He will save your souls." 
Then, turning to the priests, deacons, and inferior clergy, he 
said, " Brethren, be firm, and fear not those who can do 
nothing to the soul, but rejoice in God, who prepares you a 
dwelling in the city of the angels. Regret not the vain joys 
of the world, but pass boldly this short passage of death, 
which leads you to an eternal kingdom." Then the furious 
band fell on them and slaughtered them ; and rushing into 
the tents, found nothing but reliques, books, and wine kept 
for the holy sacrifice. With so little to pillage, they turned 
to slaughter each other. 

The body of St. Boniface was found ; beside him was a 
book mutilated and stained with blood, which seemed to 
have fallen from his hands. It contained several short works 
of the fathers, among them the writing of St. Ambrose on 
the Blessing of Death. 

^ Ozanam, ii. 2 1 5, from Willibald : De Pasaione Sancti Bonifacii. 




** Rise, then, thou chief of Empires and the last, 
Later there can be none ; 
Rise, Jirtt of Empires, since the whole world's Past ^ 

In thee lives on. 
Ride forth, God's warrior, armed with God*s command 
To chase the great Brand-wielder with the brand 
To the Asian deserts back and wastes of burning Hand.'* 

— Aubrey de Verb. 

Let ns go back a moment to that passage in bistory to 
which I am scarcely able to cite an equal in humap things, 
that meeting between Attila, the scourge of God, at the head 
of his destroying hosts, and St. Leo the Great, attended by a 
few priests, and coming to stop his advancing course. 

The declared purpose of Attila was to descend upon Rome 
and sweep it from the earth with the Mongol besom of 
erasement. We know not what passed ; we know only what 
ensued. The conqueror, who had ravaged vast countries 
without mercy, and looked upon the disappearance of Rome 
before him as the seal of universal triumph, acknowledged 
Leo to be the messenger of the God whose scourge he 
entitled himself. He withdrew his army and retired away, 
and left Rome, which had no army to defend it, unassailed. 
And Leo returned, and forthwith received the oflBcial request 
of the fourth General Council, that of Chalcedon, to confirm 
it ; and the entreaty of the Eastern Emperor Marcian, with 
.that of his wife, the virgin-saint Pulcheria, grand-daughter 
of the great Theodosius, and sole heiress of his spirit, to the 
same effect. And he complied with this request of the 
Council on the one hand, and of the emperor on the other, 
by ratifying its doctrinal decrees, while he rejected, together 
with other canons, that canon for the exaltation of the See 



of Constantiuople which his legates had not approved. He 
had in former years, on the annual festival of St. Peter and 
Sfc. Paul, proclaimed to the assembled bishops of Italy how 
Rome, under the guidance of the Apostles Peter and Paul, 
" from the mistress of error became the instructress of truth, 
being made by the sacred See of St. Peter the head of the 
world, as a holy nation, a chosen people, a priestly and a 
royal city, and having a rule wider through a divine religion 
than through an earthly domination." For this city he had 
gone as ambassador to Attila, and saved it by his word and 
the dignity of his person from immediate and utter destruc- 
tion. Returning to it, the Church in her great Council, 
and the emperor behind the Council, owned Leo to be all 
which he had said to the bishops of the West The bishops 
of the East used to him words true in their application to 
the Pope, but true of him alone when they addressed him, 
" as intrusted with the Vine by the Saviour Himself." Yet 
even this was not all ; he was to see the Western emperor 
perish by the result of his own infamous crime, and the 
empress, whom he had sacrificed, call from Carthage to 
avenge her own wrong an army of Vandal spoilers led by 
the worst of Arian pirates. Once again his single unarmed 
presence saved his city from burning. 

Pope Leo before Attila, and again before Genseric, proclaims 
the fall of the Roman empire in the West, as the homage 
of the council proclaims the full truth of all his doctrine. 
Rome ceases for ever to be the imperial city, but begins to be 
the spiritual instead of the secular capital. The life of which 
he had spoken to the bishops at their yearly meeting on St. 
Peter's Day from that time forth generated the city which 
out of its material ruins produced the spiritual empire. 

In these events we see the universal pastorship of St 
Peter accepted by the whole Church, and that pastorship 
acknowledged to reside in St. Leo, as the successor of the 
whole line of Roman bishops from St. Peter to himself. 
And further, the preservation of the city of Rome from 
destruction by the conquering Attila through the action of 
St. Leo in meeting him and turning him back ; and after 
three years another conqueror in actual possession of Rome, 
submitting to similar action on the part of St. Leo so far 


as to limit himself and bis invading army to the plunder 
of the city, refraining from the lives of the inhabitants. 
The situation thus created is at once the end of the Western 
empire, the dethronement of Bome as its civil capital, but 
the full acknowledgment of its bishop as the head of the 
whole episcopate, as what the degenerate grandson of Theo- 
dosins, while still Western emperor, termed him, " chief of 
the episcopal coronet," encircling the earth — principem cpis" 
copalis coroiice. 

Such, then, was " the new world in which the Pope stood 
from the year 455, and he stood in it for three hundred 
years." ^ From that time Rome existed only because St. 
Leo had twice saved it. Through the three hundred years 
it continued to exist only because it was the See of St. 
Peter's Primacy. The particular act which we are now con- 
templating is " the creation of a body of States whose centre 
of union and belief was the See of Peter. That is the crea- 
tion of Christendom proper." 

Let us consider first the position of St. Leo when Genseric 
had left the spoiled and plundered Rome, carrying off with 
him the miserable Eudoxia and her captive daughters, the 
elder of them forced at once to espouse the Arian Vandal 
Hunserich. Leo survived about five years, in which he 
beheld the appointment and extinction of two phantom 
emperors, Avitus and Majorian. St. Leo outlived Majorian 
for three months. It was the fourth Western emperor 
whom he had seen murdered in six years and a half. He 
left Ricimer, half a Sueve and half a Visigoth, in possession 
of Rome. The twelve hundred years of victory which Roman 
tradition had assigned to Romulus and Remus were com- 
pleted. He had seen Stilicho and Aetius in turn assassi- 
nated by the son and the grandson of the great Theodosius 
for saving the empire ; and in Ricimer began the domination 
of foreign soldiers of fortune, various in their native tribes, 
but all Arians in misbelief. 

Thus St. Leo closed the old world, which he had set forth 
to the bishops who met his call on St. Peter's Day from all 
parts of Italy. . The new world which he opened, in the 
name of the two Apostles, the patrons of the Rome which 

* VoL vL p. 54. 


be had so celebrated, lay in the hands of Arian predomi- 
nance. The emperor of the West was pronounced by the 
Homan Senate, at the bidding of Odoacer, to be extinct ; his 
imperial insignia were carried to Zeno at Constantinople, and 
Zeno, somewhat later, despatched Theodoric to take posses- 
sion with his Ostrogoths of Italy, that he might be turned 
aside from the Byzantium which Constantine had founded 
for the head of his Christiam empire. Odoacer and Theo- 
doric, equally Arians, had civil mastery over the Apostolic 
see which lasted fifty years. But even this does not express 
the whole subjection of the Apostolic See ; for the Emperor 
Zeno, now sole master of the Roman name, had a bishop of 
great enterprise, whose character both ruled and inspired 
him, and who thought the subjection of Rome to Arian 
masters, who were also Northern invaders, had brought 
about the time for Byzantium's bishop to acquire predomi- 
nance, as the residence of the emperor over St. Peter's See, 
in infidel captivity. And so for thirty-six years, from A.D. 
4S4 to A.D. 520, arose the Acacian Schism. The Bishop of 
Constantinople had behind him the Emperor Zeno; when 
he died, Anastasius succeeded, says the Greek document, to 
his wife and the empire. He reigned from 49 1 to 518, 
carrying out to the utmost the plans of Acacius. These 
two emperors made every attempt to overthrow the spiritual 
independence of the Church, both in the East and in the 
West. Thus five Popes, Felix, Gelasius, Anastasius, Sym- 
machus, and Hormisdas, are engaged at once with spiritual 
and civil enemies, with imperial schism striving to overthrow 
the old constitution of the Church, as established at the 
Council of Chalcedon, both in doctrine and government, and 
with Arian predominance, crowned in Theodoric, the ablest 
of the Northern invaders. No one can read with unpreju- 
diced eyes the acknowledgment to Pope Hormisdas by the 
Eistern prelates and the emperor of all for which he and 
his four predecessors had been contending without wonder 
at the perseverance crowned with such a result. It was 
that the whole East, emperor and bishops, proclaimed that 
" the solidity of the Christian religion rested entire and 
perfect in the Apostolic See." ^ 

? Vol. V. p. 168. 


That Arian predominance, which was, as it were, crowned 
in the person of Theodoric, was to fall with him ; but its 
fall was preceded by violent acts. Theodoric, as king of 
Italy, required Pope John L, as his subject, to undertake 
an embassy to the Eastern emperor, Justin I. He went, 
being the first Pope who had visited Constantinople. He 
was received with the highest honour and many gifts, but 
returning, never escaped alive from the dungeon of Theodoric 
at Ravenna. The tyrant died shortly after the victim, but 
a Gothic rule followed for about ten years. A short-lived 
sovereign, the Gothic Theodatus, required his subject, Pope 
Agapetus, in the year 5 36, to go for him to Constantinople. 
He went, and did great things, deposing the heretical patri- 
arch Anthimus, but he died there himself. And Justinian 
was the cause of a new state of things coming to pass. He 
began the Gothic war, and Belisarius, being his general and 
in possession of Eome, took upon him to depose the Pope 
Silverius and appoint Vigilius in his stead. And then began 
a dominion in which, for more than two hundred years, the 
Byzantine emperors became lords of Rome, not with that 
temporal sovereignty which the Theodosian house repre- 
sented, but as lords of a conquered province and ruling a 
garrisoned city. The first-fruits of such a dominion were 
seen when Pope Vigilius was summoned by Justinian, as 
his subject, to Constantinople, as Theodoric had ordered 
Pope John I. and Theodatus Pope Agapetus to go thither. 
Vigilius was the third Pope so called to obey as a subject. 
He obeyed very unwillingly, and during eight years was 
treated with gross indignity by a monarch so great in his 
capacity of civil legislator as Justinian. Vigilius escaped at 
last, with the dignity of St. Peter's successor acknowledged 
and persecuted, to die on his way back to Rome. 

But now a double tyranny from the time of Justinian is 
imposed by the Byzantine emperors on the Popes. At the 
end of the Gothic war the Exarchal viceroyalty is riveted 
on them. That chain is doubly linked. The civil subjec- 
tion is complete. Not the Pope only, but Italy, is treated 
as a captive who has no rights; who has not even the 
feeble defence of being his masters property, but, as a dis- 
tant province is treated as a scapegoat to save the lord from 



nearer and therefore more precious loss. Throughout these 
two hundred years, Byzantium, which had already turned 
the Goth upon Italy, saves itself from Northern invaders 
by suffering Italy to be plundered until the Caliphs of 
Mohammed are sent to work her resurrection. Yet this is 
only half the servitude under which the See of St. Peter 
works on enduringly. In all that time, the acknow- 
ledged civil subjection is made the instrument for attempt- 
ing incessant attacks on the spiritual supremacy. By his 
hold on Yigilius as a subject, Justinian had kept him a cap- 
tive in his hands ; had impeded him in his rights with regard 
to the Fifth Council ; had created fears in the bishops around 
him as to his freedom in spiritual action. After thirty years, 
his great and wise successor, Gregory, had need of the utmost 
exertion of all his authority to heal the schisms which the 
overbearing dominion of Justinian had scattered among dis- 
turbed bishops. 

The lordship over Rome, which began under Belisarius in 
536, and was completed by Narses in 553, lasted for more 
than two hundred years ; giving the Eastern emperor the 
means of exercising a double tyranny over the Apostolic 
See — one tyranny which the Pope acknowledged, in that he 
was a civil subject in an absolute monarchy ; the other that 
he was exposed to see his guardianship of the faith inces- 
santly attacked by the struggle of an emperor to place the 
seat of spiritual power, like that of civil power, not in the 
city of Peter, but in the city of Constantino. At the be- 
ginning of the sixth century, Acacius, shortly before the 
bishop of Constantinople, and his four successors, had been 
excommunicated, and the solidity of the Christian religion 
declared to rest in the Apostolic See, yet at the end of 
that century St. Gregory found another bishop of Con- 
stantinople ready to assert that he was universal bishop, and 
to be made a patriarch by the law of Justinian, though Pope 
Gelasius had declared that the Roman, the Alexandrian, and 
the Antiochian Church alone possessed that dignity.^ One 
after another Byzantine bishops are thrust forward by Byzan- 
tine emperors, first to obtain control over the bishops of 
Alexandria and Antioch, preceding them in age and rank, 

* See vol. V. p. 115. 


and then, with the authority so gained, to put themselves on 
equal rank with the See of Peter. The effort does not cease, 
and the means of using it in the Exarchal viceroyalty scarcely 
alter, down to the times of Leo III. and his son Constantino 
Kopronymus, when at last King Pepin, for the love of 
Peter, breaks the chain which had enfolded every Pope 
from the time of Simplicius under Odoacer to Pope Stephen 
III., and the Pope becomes sovereign in his own city where 
the Lombard Aistnlph would have made him a subject to the 
successor of the first invader, Alboin. 

Therefore St. Leo, from Attila and Genseric, began a new 
world, and it continued such in its identity of effort until 
Pope Leo II L had placed a greater than Theodoric, a nobler 
than Justinian, and a purer in belief than this succession 
of adventurers who had soiled the seat of Constantino and 
TbeodosiuB, to be " Charles Augustus, crowned of God," first 
the example and then the teacher of Christian monarchy, 
whom " the chief of the episcopal coronet " chose to be his 
defender and advocate. 

But from the time that Belisarius exercised the sway of 
a conqueror, and installed Vigilius to do the will of an 
empress at Rome, the whole line of Popes was subject to the 
strain of absent lords, who acknowledged their primacy 
while they sought every means afforded by their captive 
civil position to encumber its action. From the martyrdom 
of Pope Silverius in 540, to Pope Zacharias in 741, thirty- 
three Popes are counted, of whom no one but endured the 
enmity of the Byzantine sovereign. Besides the one design 
in which all these sovereigns were engaged, which was to set 
up their own bishop, as conveying to all Eastern bishops 
their will, the Pope was exposed to the perpetual interfer- 
ence of that Exarch whom St. Gregory so plaintively has 
described to us as his worst enemy. The Exarch usually 
plundered the Holy See at a vacancy ; strove to interfere 
with the election ; delayed its announcement at his plea- 
sure. St. Gregory's own consecration followed six months 
after his election. That of Zacharias was the first set free 
from the degrading condition which the Northern invasion, 
after the removal of the Western emperor, had set upon 
the Holy See, and which Justinian and his successors used 


to the utmost and perpetuated. There are no less than 
four great battles which the Popes, thus fettered, under- 
went, and in which only the intrinsic virtue dwelling in 
St. Peter's See enabled them to prevail. There was the 
first battle, in which Acacius, being bishop of the city which 
was the imperial residence, strove, by the help of two suc- 
cessive emperors, Zeno and Anastasius, not only to make 
subject to himself the older Eastern patriarchates, but to 
make a captive liome lose her spiritual primacy. There was 
the shameless exhibition of bare power by which Justinian 
sought to enthral that one Pope who had unduly gained 
his great pre-eminence. There was the conflict against 
the Monothelite invasion, carried on for more than forty 
years of the seventh century, which caused the martyrdom 
of one Pope and the persecution of ten immediate successors 
of Pope Honorius, while four bishops of Constantinople 
aided to the utmost their emperor in his attempts ; and in 
the eighth century there was another contest of more than 
forty years, in which two emperors, Leo and Kopronymus, 
tried to overthrow the whole tradition and settled habit of 
the Church, aided, as usual, by their Byzantine bishops. 
Had one of these thirty-three Popes failed in their duty, 
as one bishop of Constantinople failed after another, the 
Church would have yielded to the world, the salt have lost 
its savour, and been trampled under foot. 

Let us pass for the present to the especial work done 
by one of these Popes at a time of the greatest stress, when 
he anticipated not the rise of a new world, but the founder- 
ing of the old, yet provided, as the father of monks, for 
the peril and the need of the coming age. 

When Gregory, against his own will, and in spite of 
every effort, was placed in the See of Peter, that Northern 
inundation had raged for 150 years. Since Leo's time 
Rome had become a city of ruins, in which he was to keep 
guard day and night against the ever-ready Lombard, aided 
by the treacherous Exarch. Yet amid plague and inunda- 
tion the patrimony of the Church in Greiiory's hands never 
ceased. We know, by the aid of his existing letters, kept 
with greater success than those of any Pope before him, how 
his unwearied eyes travelled over the whole earth, discover- 


ing and righting every wrong. From him we have learnt 
in their fullest detail the deeds of his own Roman Benedict. 
And perhaps of all his acts the dearest and most precious to 
posterity is that dedication of his father's house to the rule 
of Benedict, and that sendiug forth forty monks from it 
to traverse France, and present themselves before a Saxon 
king to announce the Gospel. It was a hundred years since 
Clovis had accepted the Christian faith, and, amid number- 
less crimes and scandals, his race of Franks had been 
faithful to that one thing. But from end to end of that 
land the very noblest of the Teuton race, both men and 
women, had, in the midst of penance, poverty, and solitude, 
raised in deserts, forests, and wilds those homes of Benedict 
and Columban which ended in creating a new France. And 
while this vast and wide conversion was proceeding, Gregory 
sent his missionaries into a yet more savage land. It is 
precisely the period which includes the first and second 
Gregory, that is, the years from 590 to 731, wherein the 
vast number of religious houses arises in France. The man 
who, above all others of his time, fosters and encourages 
the spirit of Benedict, is the Pope Gregory. The act of his 
which proclaimed most sensibly to all the world the value 
which he assigned to the monastic spirit is the mission 
which he gave to St. Augustine, and which he called upon 
the Gallic bishops and the civil rulers, especially the famous 
Queen Brunehaut, to further to the utmost of their power. 

When Augustine the monk and his brethren, with the 
figure of our Lord borne at their head, appeared before the 
Saxon Ethelbert, surrounded by his thanes and barons, the 
two powers, which for four hundred years contested the 
possession of the new Europe yet to be created, were in 
visible presence before each other. Two lives struggled 
for mastery — the life of Odin and the life of Christ. That 
of Odin had been in full action for centuries, since the first 
father of the Asars had left the precincts of the Eastern 
sea, and carried those who followed him to the fastnesses of 
their Saxon land. In the hundred and fifty years since 
Hengist and Horsa had driven their pirate boats into Roman 
soil in England, the Christian Church had retired before 
them, fleeing for refuge into the Welsh mountains and the 


wilds of Strathclyde. The last bishops, those of London 
and York, had left their few remaining people, and a vagoe 
belief in mountains, streams, and forests, peopled with vague 
and uncertain fairy or diabolic forms, dwelt in the legends 
which Odin brought with him. Their future was the place 
where human blood, shed with bravery but without mercy, 
gained an entrance for the slaughtered warrior. The thanes 
and barons by the side of Ethelbert were faithful to his 
person ; they heard his purposes and gave him their 
counsels. The land of Britain they had divided into at 
least seven domains, continually changing in extent, en- 
croaching on each other or retiring with incessant slaughter. 
In each of these they gave a sort of royal homage to such 
as, like Ethelbert himself, were descended from Odin, and 
made a sort of royal family, forming in each generation 
alliances with each other, and selecting one of these chiefs 
to be for his life Bretwalda of the Saxon confederation. 
They cherished with fidelity certain hereditary principles 
and customs which they had brought with them from the 
North. In accordance with these, they were freemen, and 
even self-governed, so far as having a king and obeying 
him ; they were also consulted by him, and as he was royaly 
so were they noble. Their marriage was that of one man 
with one woman, an original mark of descending tradition, 
in which they were nearer to inherited custom than the 
Greeks and Romans of their day. These indeed regarded 
themselves civilised, while the others were but savages. 
But the children of Odin were in this respect what Odin 
had been, whereas the children of Theseus and Romulus 
were in rapid descent from that comparative purity which 
indicated their nobler origin. The companions, then, of 
Ethelbert, in their hundred and fifty years of English 
sojourn, had vigorous elements of civil life stirring in them 
— monarchy, free government, mutual fidelity, courage, and 
fearlessness ; perhaps even the expectation of a vague 
futurity ; a sense also of justice and right, but yielding 
perpetually to force. Before them shone in their presence, 
borne by unarmed men, the figure of the Saviour of the 
world, the Virgin- born, the God who preached from the 
Crosa The demeanour of that Saxon chief who then gazed 


on the bearers to him of a new faith was one not often 
surpassed in history. He considered their words ; he 
watched their actions ; he observed the habits of their life 
from day to day. He said that the words they told him 
were opposed to what he had heard all his life; that he 
must think over them, and would finally judge of them as 
they appeared to him. And the result was that he accepted 
their faith, was baptized by them, left his people free to 
embrace or to reject what they said, and at the ensuing 
Christmas witnessed ten thousand of his people becoming 
Christian like himself. 

This is what Pope Gregory has himself recorded in letters 
still remaining. From that time forth the land whence the 
Christian Church, having existed with its full ministry for, 
say, three hundred years, and been compelled to depart, saw 
the Anglo-Saxon race, which had compelled that departure, 
resume the full Christian faith ; saw monks spring from 
those monks ; bishops gradually partitioning their spiritual 
charge among the seven kingdoms ; raising in them monas- 
teries and nunneries; ruling their clergy according to the 
discipline of monks ; forbidding a woman to live in the 
houses of mass- priests ; and raising, finally, in each parish 
a church, where the Christian worship was practised seven 
times a day. This was, in brief, the result of that venture 
whereby, in the concluding years of the sixth century. Pope 
Gregory, watching daily for thirty years over his own life 
and the lives of his people against the heathen Lombards 
when they broke into Italy, despatched from his father's 
house, which he had made a monastery, the mansion on 
the Ccelian Hill, a troop of forty monks to traverse France, 
and plant the Gospel once more in a Britain which from 
Christian had become heathen. 

Thirty years later we have brought before us a conversion 
repeating, as it were, that of Ethelbert,.in the character both 
of the chief and of his companions. A valiant man had 
risen of the race of Odin to be king in the extreme north 
of England. No man of such might had acquired so large 
a dominion. As yet he and all his people were pagan. 
At that point of time King Edwin sought an alliance with 
Ethelbert's son, the king of Kent. Eadbald had at first 


disregarded all Christian precept, and married Ethelbert's 
second and young wife after his father's death. But he 
had become a Christian penitent and fervent in faith, and 
he gave the hand of his sister, Ethelburga, to the Nor- 
thumbrian king on condition that she was attended in her 
new home by a bishop with his household, and enjoyed full 
liberty to practise her religion. Edwin even promised that 
he would accept the religion of Ethelburga if, upon inquiry 
with his Witan, he found it the more worthy of God. 

The princess came, and was to Edwin what her mother. 
Bertha, had been to Ethelbert. And long spiritual con- 
flicts ensued between the king and Paulinus, the bishop, 
one of the forty Roman monks. And the fifth Pope from 
St Gregory, Boniface V., wrote to King Edwin conjuring 
liim from the order of the world to accept the Creator of 
all things and to cast away his idols. King Edwin was 
given to solitary thought and long reflection. A king of 
the south, a king of Wessex, had sent a messenger to him, 
who was conversing with him, and sought to assassinate 
him with a poisoned dagger upon Easter Day. He was 
saved by the devotion of a guard, who interposed his body 
and was slain. 

In one of those conversations which Paulinus held with 
the king, seeing Edwin's hesitation, he followed a divine 
impulse, laid his hand on the king's head, and asked him if 
he acknowledged that sign. The result was that the king 
had again an earnest conference with his thanes, and after- 
wards with them solemnly accepted the Christian faith, and 
was baptized by Paulinus at York in the newly-built church 
of St. Peter. That was the begining of York Minster. 

The renunciation of Odin and the acceptance of Christ 
was then as marked in the case of Edwin and his thanes as 
of Ethelbert and his thanea And the daughter whom 
Ethelburga presented to her husband was to be that famous 
Eanfleda who in after years came back to be queen of 
Northumbria, made her husband, from one once a murderer 
of his friend, a Catholic Bretwalda, and who nurtured St 
Wilfrid, sending him first to the monastery of Lindisfarne, 
and afterwards to learn all the teaching of St. Peter at 
Rome. So three chosen women. Bertha, and her daughter 


Ethelbarga, and her grand-daughter Eanfleda, appear in the 
history of England, the first-fruits of those noble women 
who brought the Christian faith to the land which had 
become heathen. 

But there are two others also, so singularly great and 
good, and passing out of heathenism straight into the deeds 
of heroes and the crown of martyrs, that I cannot pass them 
silently in this connection. What English pulse should not 
beat higher at the thought of Oswald and of Oswin, as I 
have already recorded them ? The standard of the Cross, 
which Oswald reared with his own bands when he came 
into the North from lona, became a tree of blessing for nine 
hundred years, until desecrated by the crimes of the wife- 
murderer; and the blood of Oswin, shed by a cousin, had 
virtue, through the penance of Eanfleda, to become a robe of 
expiation, in which her husband, Oswy, gains from the suc- 
cessor of St. Peter an Eastern monk as Archbishop of 
Canterbury, to join the north and south of England in the 
completion of St. Augustine's work. 

But how strong and decided was the choice of these men, 
how fully they measured the interval between Christ and 
Odin, we see by the very large part which the monastic 
spirit and life bore in the whole conversion of the land. It 
is as marked in the three monk-bishops, Aidan, Finan, and 
Colman, as in Augustine's original band. Every minister 
whom they drew around them, whether in the race which 
they brought from lona, or in those whom they gathered 
from the people to whom they were preaching, were monks, 
just as the bishops who came from Canterbury lived with 
their clergy as monks. Pope Sergins saved them from 
accepting the degradation attempted in the Dome-hall of 
the palace of Constantinople by Justinian II., the fourth 
descendant of Heraclius. The Anglo-Saxon clergy were 
not served by wives ; the Anglo-Saxon land was converted 
by monks and nuns. 

Moreover, it was so converted precisely at the time when 
the infamous life with wives and concubines of Mohammed, 
in the ten years of his professed prophetical ofiice, was fol- 
lowed by the equally ignominious lives of the Caliphs, who 
really set up his empire. They followed with peculiar 




hatred and laboured destruction religious houses, both male 
and female, in the East, exactly in those seventy years when 
the children of St. Benedict and St. Columban were planting 
them in the West. St. Gregory had died twenty years 
before the first Saracen pestilence had been breathed on the 
world. Mohammed was then the faithful servant and agent 
of his wife, but Gregory had in three things given an 
impulse to the monastic race which it had not before re- 
ceived. First, he had in his own person accepted and 
practised it ; secondly, he had sent out a mission for the 
conversion of a nation which was intrusted to it ; thirdly 
he had in his Roman council, as Pope, passed decrees estab- 
lishing the rules which should be observed by bishops in 
their dealing with monasteries and convents. In the hun- 
dred and fifty years which had passed from St. Leo to St. 
Gregory, the monastic order had greatly increased ; and 
from St. Benedict's time the rule had passed from the 
divergencies on minor points which had first prevailed, 
according to the experience of those who instituted any 
house, and the wise moderation of St Benedict had tended 
to prevail everywhere in the West. The veneration of so 
great a Pope as Gregory for the Roman noble who had wit- 
nessed all the sufferings of Italy in the Gothic? war had 
greatly encouraged the propagation of his houses. He who 
wrought a new world while he was despairing of the old, 
visibly breaking up, had unconsciously to himself prepared 
a race whose energy, courage, and devotion were to lay the 
deep and strong foundations of an Europe in process of for- 
mation. At the Council of Chalcedon religious houses were 
mainly under the rule of individual bishops ; in the time 
of Gregory they had passed beyond the concern of particular 
dioceses. The mere spread of the Benedictine houses over 
France would require that an authority swaying the whole 
country should make arrangements for them in common 
which would tend to establish one rule. The further 
spread in England, and the great part they played in 
Ireland, would carry this still further. No man can tell 
exactly when all the houses which sprung, directly or indi- 
rectly, from St. Columban completely and siijgly received 
the Benedictine rule, but all without force^ and by the final 


persaasion of the superior result accomplished by it, did so 
receive it And no doubt the action of St. Gregory, which 
we have been noting, had a large part in this reception. 

The venture, then, of Gregory first planted by his monastic 
mission the life of Christ in Britain instead of the life of 
Odin. That which was great and strong in their old life 
remained, bat mercy, self-denial, and the Cross came upon 
them. The sisters of kings who were martyrs became vir- 
gins. King Oswy dedicated a newly-born daughter of his 
wife Eanfleda to God on the occasion of overcoming with 
a small force the heathen Saxon Penda, king of Mercia, 
who so long slaughtered the Christians, and from whom 
sprung so large a number of Christian converts. Elfleda, 
the daughter so dedicated, became the second Abbess of 
Whitby in succession to Hilda ; and Werburga, fourth in 
descent from Ethelbert through Eadbald, Ercombert, and 
Ermenilda, became fourth Abbess of Ely, succeeding the 
three queens, Etheldreda of North umbria, Sexburga of 
Kent, and Ermenilda of Mercia. 

It is, then, in this seventh century that not only the 
religion but the realm of England grew up. The teaching 
of the monastic life furnished the standard upon which the 
whole fabric of government, whether civil or religious, was 
based. England was not a State before it was a Church, 
but the Christian faith was present at the birth of civil 
England. It preceded the State in other countries, took 
it up and moulded it here. It was the gift of Rome 
to it. Augustine came in the name of Eome. When he 
said that he was sent by Gregory to announce Christ, he 
named to those who had been outlaws and pirates them- 
selves a great and venerable name. His first act was to 
take a long journey to the distant city of Aries in order to 
receive from its archbishop, by the direction of the Pope, 
that sacred oflBce of bishop which was needed for the full 
exercise of his authority. His mission was not insular, but 
the outcome of a word which had already gathered many 
nations into one. The Saxons knew themselves to be of 
one race indeed, but of seven different divisions, which 
constantly waged war with each other. Whatever the reli- 
gioji they assumed was, it clearly was not national^ They 


learnt from the very beginning the essential difference 
between Church and State, and, in fact, during the whole 
Saxon period of four hundred and fifty years down to 
William the Norman, the relation between Church and 
State was clear to the Anglo-Saxon mind. The solidity 
and entireness of the union between the Two Powers was 
never shaken. It sprung from the Gregorian conversion 
of England — was part itself of that conversion. 

Gregory's first step was to create something which spoke 
of a State while it created a Church. He gave to Augustine 
the status of an archbishop. While his diocese only reached 
over a part of one small kingdom, he ordained that he should 
have twelve suffragan bishops, and even another metropolitan 
like himself, who, as soon as circumstances were ripe for 
such a development, should likewise have twelve sufiragans, 
and each of these having the pallium from the body of 
St. Peter, should tend by their very appointment to the 
unity of a kingdom. That, indeed, was their work. In an 
incredibly short time, before the death of Archbishop Theo- 
dore, these bishops radiating from Canterbury penetrated 
into the Saxon kingdoms and drew them together. York, 
it so happened, was the last, yet St. Bede witnessed his 
own friend, the brother of the king, promoted to that office, 
and linking the south with the north. 

From the beginning of the two converted countries, Ire- 
land and England, the people, through the hierarchy formed 
by the Church, rise to the highest office, and are mated on 
equal terms with the noblest born in their civil rank, and 
sit with them in consultation on affairs of state. Thus 
Wilfrid and Bennet Biscop are nobles, high in favour with 
their sovereigns, before, by the permission of their sovereigns, 
they embrace the monastic state. That everywhere is the 
action of St. Gregory's Church. It was one of those pregnant 
actions out of which he drew the still shapeless Europe. 

Herein Parliaments have their origin. Episcopal councils 
lead to National Chambers. The congress at Whitby is an 
anticipation of Parliaments ; bishops become peers by their 
landed possessions held directly of the Crown, while from 
the beginning they retain their full ecclesiastical position. 
The concurrence of the Two Powers marks the whole Saxon 


period. As the king and his thanes were together in the 
case of Ethelbert and of Edwin and of Oswy, so king, 
thanes, and bishops continued together. At his first council 
Archbishop Theodore marked the presence and required the 
attestation of each bishop, and in their spiritual work they 
voted alone, but the sovereign also assented to the work 
when done, as part of the civil law, while their enactment 
was accepted by the Pope as part of what the Church held 
throughout her whole domain. Pope Vitalian, who had 
sent Theodore, and that at the instance of Oswy, the Bret- 
walda, kept watch also over what he did as sent. This 
was the Church's work — that is, the work of the Roman 
See everywhere. The Spanish councils of Toledo bore witness 
to this in the sixth and seventh centuries ; the capitularies 
of Charlemagne in the eighth. The English councils and 
courts in Anglo-Saxon legislation, and Alfred, the hero-king, 
was the most loyal of Catholics in the restoration of his 
kingdom after the Danish ruins. 

The empire in the East never admitted what we mean 
by a Parliament. The autonomy of the Church, so far as it 
existed legally from Constantine, a.d. 323, to the Emperor 
Leo, A.D. 474, was the remaining tradition and existing 
exercise of the Church's original position before Constan- 
tine, not the union of the ecclesiastical and secular chiefs, 
the principes spiritual and civil debating together things 
common to Church and State. The time of St. Gregory 
first witnesses, as his action produces, that in the West. 
The Eastern absolutism repudiated it always. 

When the Christian faith came to the ancient civilisations 
of Syria, Egypt, Constantinople, and Eomo, it was not so 
received into the inmost mind as it was in the monasteries 
which we have recorded as founded either in the vast region 
of France by the children of Benedict and Columban, or 
in the British island by Gregory's mission, reinforced by 
tlie monk-bishops from lona. Herein lies a radical differ- 
ence between the civil State which sprung up in England 
in the first century after A.D. 597, and the State which 
existed in Justinian's empire, A.D. 527—565. In the ten 
years A.D. 630—640, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, after being 
long trampled on by despotic power in Constantinople, 


surrendered their seven centuries of Christian faitL Antioch, 
Alexandria, and Jerusalem became chiefly Mohammedan. 
Twelve hundred years have passed in that most miserable 
captivity ; the Saracenic ruin advanced on with portentous 
strides, and by the year 700 the strong walls of Constan tine's 
city were the only great bulwark remaining against the 
yearly reiterated attack of those who denied the Christian 
iaith altogether, and specially outraged Christian morality. 
They were repulsed by the help of the Greek fire rather 
than by Christian courage. But at that very time multi- 
tudes of Teuton men and women, by their voluntary accept- 
ance of Benedictine life, saved France for the Christian 
faith, rejected and expelled the Arian misbelief. And in 
that same time Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns made Britain 
Christian and Catholic in heart and marrow, as the people 
of Heraclius and Justinian, and Constantino's contempo- 
raries had never been. The conversion which he inaugurated 
left an ancient State in which the whole body politic had 
been formed and grown up in heathenism and idolatry; 
the conversion which Gregory had planned and begun, 
established on fixed principles, and which his successors 
carefully superintended, while Archbishop Theodore, sent 
direct from one of them, made it conterminous with Eng- 
land, took up a nation of pirates and freebooters and 
transformed society by making it Christian in its very 
roots. Augustine and Paulinus, Wilfrid and Cuthbert, 
Bennet Biscop, Willibrord, and Aldhelm, Beda and Boni- 
face, were great agents in this. The number of kings, 
queens, and princesses of Odin's race who monachised shows 
how that new life had penetrated into the Saxon blood. 
Only we must remember that the Saxon conversion was 
but part of a vast movement. The great annalist of the 
Benedictine rule notes the extraordinary fertility of its 
second century, the importance and greatness of the work 
done by the monks, and that in reference to the Moham- 
medan aggression. It is time to note the effects, spiritual 
and civil, of the Common Life, The general assumption of 
this by the Northern invaders in France, and Spain, and 
Italy, and then in Britain, helped by the devoted Irish race, 
and lastly in Germany, from the time of the Saxon Boni- 


face, I count to be the basis on which Europe has been 
buih ; and as Benedict the Roman was the great builder, so 
Gregory the Eoraan inspired and blessed the building. 

I have now pursued the religious life in a course of his- 
torical sketches during four hundred years, from Antony, 
its patriarch, in the deserts of Egypt, to Boniface, legale 
and counsellor of the Roman See. And Boniface, the 
Anglo-Saxon, the Papal benediction stirring his Teuton 
nature within him during more than thirty years, carried 
everywhere the rule of St. Benedict in the border-land of 
Gaul and Germany. The life which was celebrated by St 
Athanasius, the great champion of the Christian faith in 
the fourth century, and studied with careful attention, and 
then with zealous practice, by St. Basil and his bosom friend 
St. Gregory, has spread with a most wonderful development 
among the sons and daughters of Teuton race. They have 
first overthrown the Roman empire in Gaul and then em- 
braced its religion. I wish to search as closely as I am 
able into the nature of a fact which this series of events 
has forced upon my mind. The fact which I search into 
is, that the monastic life constitutes a society more deeply 
Christianised than that which subsisted in Constantine's 

Atiianasius, after five banishments and many hair- 
breadth escapes of his life from the persecution of the 
Roman emperors Constantius and Valens, bestowed upon 
the West the Life of Antony, whom during many years he 
had known, loved, and venerated. His work stirred a mul- 
titude of minds, kindling intensely their spirit, as did, 
somewhat later, the Confessions of St. Augustine, who, in- 
deed, was one of those awakened by it. But the life thus 
portrayed was then practised in one of the outlying provinces 
of the Roman empire. Its author thought it a marvel that 
a man who lived in a desert approached with diflSculty 
could become known even before his death to Constantine 
and the emperors, his sons, and to many of their subjects. 
From that time forth, and through the exertions of the 
greatest saints, as well as the most renowned among them 
for their gift as preachers and writers, the life begun in 
Egypt was propagated in Palestine and Asia Minor and in 


the cliief cities of the empire, first in the East, but gradually 
in the West. I have introduced St. Augustine and St. 
Jerome as marking its presence at Rome, and Pope Liberius 
as recording in St. Peter's the profession of the virginal life 
by the sister of St. Ambrose, and the praise which that 
Pope expressed for it. During the continuance of the empire 
the monastic life in both sexes was to be found widely spread. 
It formed, however, still numerically a small proportion of 
the population. As long as the fabric of Roman govern- 
ment and civilisation continued unimpaired, the growth went 
on of those who sought a retreat from the seduction of un- 
christian life in discipline, penance, and regular devotion. 
But in the time we are now traversing we witness quite a 
difierent state of things — different in that society itself is 
constructed on a new basis. 

Let us take the seventh century, and a passage in it from 
one who has specially studied it.^ The mission of the Irish 
in Austrasia was, above all, to extend and regularise monas- 
tic institutions. The example of Columban and his com- 
panions was a delight to bold spirits, formed a leading to 
the timid, and turned, we may say, in the same direction 
the whole effort of Christian society. The spirit of the 
solitaries at Luxeiul was gaining the world, and made itself 
felt in the Church and in the State. St. Elicius and St 
Amandus do not think they have completed the conversion 
of Flanders unless they cover it with monasteries. Their 
disciples people the two abbeys of Ghent, those of Tournay, 
those of St. Ghislain and Marchiennes, of St. Tron and Lobes. 
The Carlovingian family of great civilisers marks itself already 
by the number of its foundations. The widow and daughters 
of Pepin of Landen, Ita, Begge, Gertrude, take the veil, form 
communities at Nivelles and Andane, and in order to instruct 
in singing psalms the virgins whom they assemble, call in 
more Irish masters. Later, Pepin of Heristal and Plectrude 
open to other Irish pilgrims St. Martin of Cologne, found in 
the same city St. Mary of the Capitol and Sustern in the 
diocese of Maestricht. In these institutions we find some- 
thing else than the terror of the dying, or a great criminal 
who tries for the safety of his soul by the prayers of others, 

^ Ozanam, iL 117- 120, translated. 


and particularly more than thoasands of lives consumed in 
a cloister's inertness and the weariness of never-ending 
psalmody. We may trace tbere religious inspiration first of 
all, but also a design of wise policy. |The abbeys of the 
seventh century, with their population 01 three or five hun- 
dred monks, were like so many fortresses whose walls stopped 
the incursions of unbelievera They stationed themselves from 
the banks of the Somme to those of the Rhine, girdling Aus- 
trasia from the north, separating it from the heathen coun- 
tries, and lastingly enclosing it in the extended frontier of 
Christianity. The abbeys were immovable colonies in the 
midst of a population otherwise transitory. Societies which 
did not die, did not abdicate like bishops, did not let them- 
selves be carried away in the train of kings, and resisted 
better than they both fraud and violence ; these societies, 
obedient, chaste, and laborious, astonished the barbarians, 
had a hold on them by benefits, and at length kept them 
fixed, which went far to civilise them. 

Abbeys have been considered as schools of profane and 
sacred science ; they were at the same time schools of in- 
dustry and agriculture, which preserved in their workshops all 
the arts of antiquity, and were as obstinate as old Eomans 
in pushing on the cultivation of deserts. With them also 
we see begin that innovation of Christian time, female 
education. After the coenobitic city of Kildare, founded 
by St. Brigitt, where an abbess and a bishop governed 
together two great communities of monks and nuns, double 
monasteries had spread in Ireland, and later in Austrasia, 
where we find those of Nivelles, of Maubeuge, and those 
of Remiremont Men and women lived there quite sepa- 
rate, but under one law. At Remiremont the abbot had 
the spiritual government ; at Nivelles and at Maubeuge the 
abbess seems to have kept it. A discipline which suited the 
admirable purity of Irish manners would not be so . well 
preserved among the Franks. But the female monasteries 
multiplied. The pastoral crosses of their abbesses found 
respect with the neighbouring lords. Their libraries became 
enriched with classical writings. Their nuns ranked with 
chroniclers and poets. Equality of minds, which the old 
wisdom had not pursued, was to reappear in monasteries, 



and so find its way into families. These grave foundresses 
of the seventh century, who had only thought of educating 
a few hundred barbarous young women, began the educa- 
tion of the most chivalrous and polite people in the worldj 

The conversion of the Franks of Austrasia drew with it 
that of three peoples who fell under their dependence— of 
the AUemans, the Thuringians, and the Bavarians. 

I have been for some time busied with two great events 
— the one, the conversion of Ireland by St. Patrick in the 
fifth century ; the other, the conversion of England by St. 
Augustine, beginning at the end of the sixth, and extended 
to almost every part by St. Theodore, who died in 690. 
These are national conversions. In the former, a Celtic 
people, pagan from the earliest of its records, accepts the 
Christian faith ; in the latter, a Teuton people, pagan like- 
wise, and worshipping like the former the powers of nature, 
accepts the same faith. In both the acceptance is vol- 
untary; in both, likewise, for the first time in Christian 
history, it is effected by monks and nuns. Not only has 
St. Patrick brought with him from Rome and from France 
the monastic institute, which he had witnessed in all ite 
vigour, but he had fixed it in the hereditary Irish genius; 
it has filled vast monasteries with its offspring, and sent 
them to Scotland and England to draw the yet heathen 
people to their own life and faith. St. Augustine is a 
monk, leading a troop of monks, who come from the centre 
of Rome, with mission from the Pope himself;, and when 
they take root, the Pope commands the archbishop, whom 
he names as primate in that newly acquired country, to 
live as monk with his clergy, carrying on the life which 
the Church had inherited from the Apostles at Jerusalem. 
Then the children of St. Patrick from their monastery of 
Ion a listen to the invitation of an Anglo-Saxon convert to 
send him a monk-bishop to convert his people. For thirty 
years, three bishops, all monks, and using monks to con- 
vert the heathens to the faith which Patrick brought, join 
all the power of the monastic spirit with that same spirit 
which had lived on at Canterbury; and Rome completes 
her work by sending another monk from St. Paul's- city 
of Tarsus to establish bishops who shall direct the whole 


land* under the rule of Canterbury. And in that conver- 
sion of England Anglo-Saxon women take an active part 
The daughters and sisters of princes are found to preside 
over convents ; and the noblest of Jbhem all has created a 
name imperishable in history, as leaving the chief throne, 
which was then that of Northumbria, with the sanction 
of her bishop, to live a nun among her sisters, on the 
ground which a husband only in name had given as a 
bridal gift. 

It is hard for the mind to realise the immense extent 
to which the monastic spirit was poured out in both sexes 
over wide regions. That great civil fabric which the Eoman 
empire had reared was in St. Leo's time reduced to ruin. 
An Arian invader from the North requires the Roman 
Senate to declare a Western emperor needless. Another 
Arian invader from the East supplants him, and in the 
name of the Eastern emperor rules Italy and a great 
dominion besides with independent force. But his skill 
is impotent in the end to join the Roman mind with the 
Gothic arm. Rome herself passes by conquest under a 
delegated viceroyalty; and the Popes for more than two 
hundred years have to maintain themselves by the in- 
trinsic power of their primacy. They fight a desperate 
battle against the Eastern tyranny, playing the champion 
to the Monothelite heresy. In the midst of this struggle, 
St. Benedict gathers in the Samnite mountains his rule 
of life. He sends a favourite disciple to the banks of the 
Loire with the measure of bread and of wine, out of which 
to produce a race which shall reject marriage and live on 
labour, prayer, and study. This was in the year 543. In 
the time of St. Boniface we are at the distance of two 
centuries, and we find that the life which St. Martin had 
already founded at Tours, and St. Honoratus had planted at 
Lerins, and St. Csesarius at Aries, and others in Marseilles 
and elsewhere, had spread everywhere in Gaul. The race 
of Clovis, gaining France, but giving it no one State— by 
which we mean a realm free from division, with fixed and 
stable boundaries, and uniting a people within a country 
— was expiring in ignominy. The voice of Peter gave it 
a death- bio Wj and made a race sovereign which he had 


already raised to the patriciate of the Roman See, and 
called to be the defender of its primacy. But the greater 
marvel is that God has raised oat of this conquering race 
of Franks men and women who, by incessant acts of free- 
will, have renounced their wealth as conquerors, and their 
free agency as subjects, for the life which St. Benedict in- 
troduced to the^i, and St Columban widely propagated. 
It has gone from one end of France to the other. It 
has vaulted from Bome to Ireland, and again from Bome 
to Britain ; it has taken possession of these countries ; and 
out of races which have been notorious for internecine 
cruelty among each other in their pagan state, a multitude 
have left their own land to win to the Christian faith 
those who were still pagans. Irish missionaries have left 
their country to convert Anglo-Saxons, and both Irish and 
Anglo-Saxons to convert Teutons, and they worked this 
conversion, not when those Teutons revelled in the rich- 
ness of Boman civilisation, in such a life as the cultivated 
fourth century showed in so many consular or patrician 
homes, such as Paulinus and his wife retired from, but 
when the land was quaking in uncertainty. They who 
came to convert were in poverty and nakedness, in the life 
which did not live by human means, the life of Benedict in 
the Samnite mountains, the life which St. Ouen and his 
brethren chose instead of king's palaces. It was this life 
which enabled St. Boniface to work with Pepin and Carlo- 
mann in restoring the sees of their dominions from the 
terrible disorder into which they had fallen in the last two 
generations of the sluggard kings. Thus Trier, Cologne, 
and Mainz, recovered the position which they had held in 
the great unfallen Roman empire ; and not that only, but 
the word of Pope Zacharias had joined to them the thirteen 
sees over which the province of the Anglo-Saxon primate 
Boniface extended. His pupil Sturm carried for him that 
life through the woods to Fulda, and no one of his eleven 
Anglo-Saxons failed him on the trial-day at Dockum ; and 
Lioba, once a nun at Wimborne, after her long career as 
German abbess and her years of labour for him, was joined 
with him, as he wished, after the death of both, in her rest 
at Fulda. And Germany was made as Erin and England 


were made, and the three great daughters owned Rome for 
one mother. 

Reviewing the time which passes from St. Gregory's 
entrance on the Roman See in 590 to the consummation 
of St. Boniface in his martyrdom of 755, what is the scene 
presented to us? One, I think, of which no other time 
presents a result so wonderful. We have the vast extent 
to which the monastic order has been embraced by men and 
women in the great region of what had been the Roman 
eoipire, and we have the vast extent to which the countries 
bordering on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea 
have ceased to be Christian ; and have also, with the fiercest 
heat of intolerance, proclaimed their intention to destroy 
the Christian faith, and especially the monastic order within 
it. I wish to consider these two events in their bearing on 
each other. 

Let us cast a glance upon this mortal duel which has 
been going on during thirteen centuries, the duel between 
the life of Nazareth as seen in Benedict, when, in the 
solitude of Subiaco, as images of his former social life at 
Rome came to tempt him, he threw himself into the thorns, 
and clasped with them the cross, and the life of Mohammed 
with his Egyptian slave, or with the wife of his adopted 
son, threatening with infamous captivity all whom he 

Herein the seventh century surpasses the fourth and 
fifth. Pope Liberius accepted and blessed the sister of 
St. Ambrose in her profession of the virginal life before 
him in St. Peter's. Pope Gregory sent forth forty monks 
from the abbey which he h*ad founded in his father's palace 
to convert a nation of pagans, the most cruel then known, 
for they had made a slaughter-house of a once Christian 
country. This marks the difference of the times. All 
Roman grandeur had perished in the vast domain at the 
centre of which Liberius spoke. But from the midst of 
those ruins another Pope saw the Common Life tacitly gather- 
ing its spiritual conquests. The monastery in which Bene- 
dict caused his rule to live was everywhere. The seventy- 
two instruments of good works which he drew up for its 
inhabitants fixed their minds upon the divine life of faith. 


I will only cite the two first and the three last as a speci- 
men. The first runs : " In the first place, to love the Lord 
God with all one's heart, all one's soul, and all one's strength." 
The second: " Then one's neighbour as oneself." The three 
last : " To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ ; to 
make peace with an adversary before the setting of the 
sun ; and never to despair of God's mercy." ^ In the home 
which the abbot constructed for city and for desert alike, 
he assigned to every member his special work. No one 
was left idle or to intrude into the function of another. 
But the common property and business of all were the 
seventy-two instruments of good works. Every son and 
every daughter of the Northern invasion who accepted 
Benedict's measure of wine and measure of bread as the 
food of the body, accepted the seventy-two instruments of 
good works as the food of the soul. 

The life which went on outside those monasteries was 
that of a wild hunting for the lords of the soil, and a scanty 
agriculture for those who worked as their vassals. All sorts 
of hardships and sufferings were inflicted by the one and 
endured by the other. But the monastery which supplied 
its own wants had first of all the worship of God for its 
daily work, and the care of its neighbour for its second 
.thought. Cities had perished in abundance, and the fields 
once surrounding them lapsed into deserts. But of the 
new cities and towns which in lapse of time arose in France, 
three-eighths bore the names of monks, and the great forests 
learnt to become their choicest territories and most fruitful 
gardens of human food. 

But the monasterv, each of which worked this effect for 
its own neighbourhood, carried the missionary spirit every- 
where. We know not to what degree the diocese of each 
bishop since the time of St. Leo had practically receded in 
actual extent, or how many parochial districts had lapsed 
before the progress of foreign inroad. That the destruction 
had been very great we have every reason to believe. It 
was in the dwelling together produced by the coonobitic 
rule that all the great missionaries of whom we have spoken 
— Wilfrid, Bennet Biscop, Cuthbert, Aldhelm, Boniface — 

1 Rule, pp. 31-37. 


looked for the propagation of the spirit to work the conver- 
sion of others — looked for the training of the missionary 
himself. Thus Wilfrid in his monastery at Ripon received 
Willibrord a helpless child, and after years of discipline and 
training sent him forth a trainer of others. Thus he fol- 
lowed the example of Wilfrid, preaching in Frisia. And 
Rome, by Wilfrid's hands, made him a bishop. So Boni- 
face found him, and worked with him during three years, 
and was besought to join. But he rather went forth with 
an express and greater mission from Rome, and founded a 
host of monasteries and convents as the Legate of four suc- 
cessive Popes, and thus he becomes the chief of a great 
hierarchy for more than a thousand years. 

Of the work in France, let us judge by these as the 
sample of a multitude of examples. 

Bishop Ouen,^ whose influence and concurrence had be- 
stowed on the diocese of Rouen the two powerful abbeys 
of Fontenelle and Jumieges, is attached to Columban by a 
remembrance dating from his earliest years. The great 
Irish monk was everywhere marked by his love for children 
and the fatherly kindness he showed them. At the time 
of his exile, and during his journey from the court of the 
king of Neustria to that of the king of Anstrasia, he had 
stopped at a castle situated on the Marne, belonging to ^ 
Frank lord, the father of three sons — Adon, Radon, ana 
Dadon — two of them still very young. The mother brought 
them to the holy exile for his blessing. That blessing 
brought them happiness and ruled their life. All the three 
at first, like the whole youth of the Frank nobility, were 
sent to the king's court, that is to say, the court of Clotaire 
IL, then of his son, Dagobert I. These two for a certain 
time reigned alone over the three Frank kingdoms. The 
eldest of the three brothers, Adon, was the first to break 
with the grandeurs and pleasures of secular life. He built 
on his inherited estate, upon a height looking down on the 
Mame, the monastery of Jouarre, which he put under the 
rule of Columban, and where he became monk himself. 
Almost at once, by the side of that first foundation, there 
sprung up another community of virgins, which was to 

^ Montalembert, ii. 586-596. 


become mucli more illastrioas, and be associated a thonsand^ 
years later with the immortal memory ofBossaet. 

ItadoQ, the second of the brothers, who had become 
Dagobert's treasurer, followed his brother's example, and, 
like him, gave up his portion of his father's inheritance to 
found another monastery, also on the banks of the Mame, 
called ailber his name Reiul, the contraction of Badolinm. 

There was still the third, Dadon, afterwards called Ouen. 
He had become dearest of Dagobert's lieges, the chief in 
his confidence. He had even become his Guard of the Seal, 
with which, in the usage of the Frank kings, all edicts and 
acts of the public authority were sealed. He did not the 
less follow the example of his brothers, and that inspiration 
which Columban's blessing had breathed on their young 
hearts. He looked in the forests then encompassing Brie 
for a spot suitable for the foundation which he sought to 
create and endow. At last he found it near a torrent called 
Bebais, a littJe south of the sites chosen by his brothers. 
It was a clearance shown to him during three successive 
nights by a cloud shining in form of a cross. There he 
built a monastery, which kept the name of the torrent, 
though Ouen first gave it the name of Jerusalem, as a 
symbol of the fraternal peace and contemplative life which 
he meant to reign there. It was there he wished, like his 
brothers, to finish his life in retreat. But neither the king 
nor the other lieges would consent. He had to continue 
some time longer at the Merovingian court, until the day 
when he was chosen bishop, at the same time as his friend 
Eligius, by the unanimous consent of clergy and people. 

He held through the whole province of Eouen a sort 
of sovereignty at once spiritual and temporal, for he had 
obtained a privilege from the king of Neustria, according to 
which no bishop, abbot, or count, or any other judge, could 
be put there without his consent. During the forty-three 
years of his pontificate he changed the face of his diocese 
by covering it with monastic foundations, one of which in 
Rouen itself has kept his name, being consecrated to art 
and history by that marvellous basilica, a monument at this 
present moment the most popular which Normandy contains. 

But Ouen had not left his dear foundation of Bebais 


without a head worthy to preside over its future. He would 
have it filled with the spirit of the great saint whose memory 
remained always so dear to him. So he brought from 
Luxeuil the monk who seemed to him best to personify the 
institution of Columban. This was Agilius, the son of that 
lord who had obtained from the king of Burgundy the gift 
of Luxeuil for the Irish missionary. Agilius, like Ouen and 
his brothers, had been presented when quite a child for the 
blessing of Columban in his father's dwelling, and then in- 
trusted to the saint to be brought up in his monastery. 
Here he had taken the religious habit, and gained the affec- 
tion and confidence of the whole community. While he was 
associated with the mission of Columban's successor with the 
heathen Warascians and Bavarians, his renown was great 
in all the country of Frank domination. Wherever he had 
passed, at Metz, or Langres, or BesaD9on, he had excited 
universal admiration by his eloquence and the miraculous 
cures due to his prayers. All the cities wanted him for their 
bishop, while the monks of Luxeuil looked upon him as 
their future abbot. It required a written order of Dagobert 
to make him come out of the monastery, which seemed his 
true birthplace, and bring him at first to Compi^gne. Here 
he was received with great ceremony before all the court, 
and the government of the new abbey placed in his hands, 
with the consent of the bishops and the lieges assembled at 
the palace. Twelve monks of Luxeuil came in with him, 
and were soon joined by a great number of noble lords, as 
well of the royal train as of the neighbouring parts, so that 
Agilius counted eighty disciples, and among them the youug 
Philibert, who was to carry the Columbanic tradition from 
Rebais to Jumifeges. All together gave themselves up to 
the labour of clearing the soil and the duties of hospitality, 
with a zeal which made all the new monasteries so many 
colonies of agriculture, so many sure places of succour for 
travellers in those vast provinces of Gaul. Their work was 
to raise up these at last from that double ruin which Boman 
oppression and barbarian invasion had brought down on 

Irish missionaries, then abundant in Gaul upon the track 
of Columban, traversing it to carry to Rome the homage* 


of their burning devotion, willingly stopped at the gate of a 
monastery where they knew that they would meet a pupil 
and admirer of the great saint of their nation. Then Agilius 
gave them in abundance the good wine of the banks of the 
Marne, so that sometimes he exhausted the provisions of his 
house. A graceful story tells us his watchful charity in a 
still more attractive light One winter evening the abbot, 
having spent his day in receiving guests of a higher rank, 
was passing through the different offices of the monastery. 
He had reached that part which received strangers, special 
for the reception of those in want, when he heard outside 
a feeble and plaintive voice, as of a man crying. Through 
the wicket of the door, in the evening dusk, he caught sight 
of a poor man, covered with sores, lying on the ground, and 
craving to be admitted. He turned to the monk who was 
by him, crying, " See, in the midst of other cares, we have 
neglected our first duty. Go quickly and get him some- 
thing to eat" Then, as he had upon him all the keys of 
the house, which the porter brought him every evening 
after the stroke of compline, he opened the fold of the great 
door with the words, " Come, brother, we will do for thee 
all thou wan test." The leper's pains prevented him walk- 
ing, so he took him on his shoulders, carried him in, and 
placed him on a seat by the fire. Then he went to get 
water and a towel to wash his hands, but when he came 
back the poor man had disappeared, leaving behind him a 
delicious frairrance, filling the whole house, as if all the 
aromatics of the East and all the flowers of spring had 
poured out their odours. 

These sweet effusions of charity were blended under the 
rule and influence of Coluraban with the most vigorous 
virtues, as well in the female as the male sex. During that 
same journey from Neustria to Austrasia, the illustrious 
exile, before reaching the house of St. Ouen's father, had 
stopped with another family allied to this, then dwelling 
near Meaux. Its head was a powerful lord named Agneric, 
whose son Cagnoald had been from his boyhood a monk at 
Luxeuil, and accompanied the abbot in his banishment. 
Agneric held the dignity which is translated by the term 
*' the king's guest," and his king was precisely that Theo- 


debert to whom Columban was repairing. He received tliat 
illustrions banished man with joyous emotions, and would 
be his guide during the rest of his way. But before they 
set out he begged Columban to bless all his house, and on 
this occasion presented to him a quite little giri, only known 
to us under the name of Burgundofara, a name which in- 
dicates at once her high nobility and the Burgundian origin 
of the family, as meaning the noble baroness of Burgundy. 
The saint gave his blessing, but at the same time vowed 
her to the Lord. History does not mention if it was with 
the consent of her parents, but the noble young giri, when 
she reached marriageable age, thought herself bound by this 
engagement, and resolutely opposed the marriage which her 
father wished her to contract. She became sick and was 
near dying. At this moment the Abbot Eustasius, Colnm- 
ban's successor at Luxeuil, was coming back from Italy to 
give an account to Clotaire II. of the mission with which 
that king had charged him to his spiritual father, and passed 
by Agneric's villa. When he saw the young dying girl, he 
reproached the father with having broken the engagement 
taken to God by the saint whose blessing he had asked for. 
Agneric promised to leave his daughter to God if she were 
cured. Eustasius obtained the cure, but hardly had he gone 
away to Soissons than the father, disregarding his promise, 
wished afresh to force his daughter to the marriage she 
rejected. Then she escaped, and took refuge in the cathe- 
dral of St. Peter. Her father's people followed her with 
orders to tear her from the sanctuary and menaces to kill 
her. "You think, then," she said to them, "that I fear 
death. Try it on the pavement of this church. How 
happy should I be to give my life in so just a cause to Him 
who gave His own for me." She held out till the return 
of the Abbot Eustasius, who finally carried her off from her 
father, and obtained from him the grant of a domain whereon 
Burgundofara was able to found the monastery called after 
her name Faremoutier. Like the queen Eadegonda, a cen- 
tury before, she added a community of religious organised 
by her brother. Her example drew many recruits among 
the wives and daughters of the Frank nobility, whom her 
cousins had gained in their own sex for their monasteries 


of Jouarre and Rebais. That comer of Brie thus became a 
sort of monastic province holding of Luxeuil. Burgnndofara 
lived there forty years, observing faithfully the rule of Colura- 
ban, and she was able to maintain it courageously against 
the perfidious suggestions of the false brother Agrestine. 
He came to try to draw her into the revolt against Eus- 
tasius and the traditions of their common master. " I will 
have," she told him, " none of thy novelties ; and as to those 
from whom thou detractest, I know their virtues ; I have 
received from them the teaching of salvation, and I know 
that their instructions have opened to many the gate of 
heaven. Depart hence at once and give up thy foolish 

Of her brothers, the elder, Cagnoald, became afterwards 
bishop of Laon, the younger bishop of Meaux. He gave 
up his patrimony to found monasteries to receive Anglo- 
Saxons, who, in their recent conversion, flocked to the 
Franks. Many of their daughters came to take the veil 
at Faremoutier. Those fii^t-born of that great Christian 
family which was breaking out in Britain seem to have 
been specially received and formed in the communities on 
the banks of the Marne and the Seine ; at Jouarre, Fare- 
moutier, Andelys, and Challes. Burgnndofara had quite a 
colony of Anglo-Saxons. There St. Hilda of Whitby wished 
to be. Bede says that her sister, Hereswida, queen of East 
Anglia, in that same convent submitting to regular dis- 
cipline, was at this time expecting the eternal crown ; 
Earcongotha, sister of the queen-abbess Ermenilda, and, 
like her, third in descent from Ethelbert, died abbess of 
Faremoutier in 700. Of her Bede says, " A child worthy 
of her parent (King Ercombert of Kent), a virgin of great 
virtues, ser\'ing the Lord in the monastery built by that 
most noble abbess Fara." ^ 

We must here note a most signal and wonderful service 
which these monasteries, in both the sexes, conferred upon 
the world. By this seventh century the men and the 
women who had followed the example of the first Fathers 
of the Desert in so many provinces of the Roman empire, 
and now, in that great part of what had onCe been the 

^ Bede, iv. 25 ; iii. 8. 


Homan empire, but had now little trace of orderly govern- 
ment left, had substituted free and self-chosen labour for 
labour servile and compelled. They worked in obedience 
to abbot or abbess, as those holding to them the place of 
Christ, with a willingness which the slave had never shown, 
and, in the nature of things, never could show. The destruc- 
tion of agriculture in Italy had long been ascribed to the 
perpetual encroachment of slave labour. Thus latifwadia 
had ruined the spirit of the early Romans, such as the 
ballads spoke of in the famous times when the consul, 
leading his citizens to battle, after his year of of&ce held 
the plough in his own fields. In that famous scene depicted 
by St. Gregory, where the Gothic chief who had been bidden 
to travesty his commander fell detected before the sitting 
Benedict, he paid homage to that great transformer of 
labour who planted his house in the desert to meet every 
need of daily life for the tenants he collected in it, and 
taught them to exist when the single priest fled before the 
invader. In numberless instances the labour thus under- 
taken had transformed the outward state of the country, 
and the latifundia, after becoming woods and wilds in the 
slave-time, became the richest marvels of fruitfulness under 
the abbot's cross. 

. This was in the character of the labour itself ; but what 
of the character of those who gave it? In the fourth 
century the princely mansions of the great Roman land- 
lords scattered through the provinces contained a multitude 
of freedmen and freedwomen, too often concealing under 
even Christian names lives which rather presented the 
features of Roman civilisation than of Christian discipline. 
Now monks and nuns replaced the lihertini and the liher^ 
tinoOy who had been the instruments and victims of Rome's 
worst time under a Nero or a Domitian. In that way the 
terrible inundation from the North, after destroying the 
civilisation which Tacitus loved, and which commanded 
mankind under Trajan and Hadrian, led to the formation 
of a new society. The entirely wonderful extension of the 
monastic life led to the creation of so vast a number work- 
ing under Benedictine conditions, that a new standard for 
a loftier human nature was erected in the countries wherein 


they rose. The house constructed by Tara, who was ready 
to die on the floor of the church rather than be compelled 
against her will to marry, was the fruitful beginning of 
other houses wherein the like spirit dwelt. The sister of 
that Etheldreda who raised the great house of Ely on the 
marriage dowry given by a husband only in name, followed 
in Sexburga, Bang Ercombert's widow; by him she had 
two daughters. ' One, Ermelinda, after helping to convert 
Mercia as its queen, became third Abbess of Ely ; the other, 
Earcongotha, was herself Abbess of Faremoutier. The sub- 
stitution of such inhabitants of monasteries for the libertini 
and lihertinm of Neronian times is the full accomplishment 
of monastic life, to which I attribute the springing up of 
a Christian Europe. A moral character in labourers never 
known before was by degrees spread everywhere. 

Another result was that which more than anything 
humanised barbarism itself. It was not one host which in 
settled battle-array broke into France and Spain, and beat 
down all before it. It was a perpetual succession of small 
bands out of many various tribes. They came as raiders ; 
the leaders were no better than the soldiers. Their object 
was plunder. One after another they came, bringing desola- 
tion each on a small sphere — ready to fight with others 
who came near and narrowed their bounds of depredation. 
How was a kingdom to come out of this ? It was a Julius 
Ca33ar who tamed Gaul, not a Clovis, or a Clotaire, or a 
Dagobert. But in the houses of Benedict or of Columban 
one spirit dwelt. They had endurance beyond that of 
soldiers in the field, but they had the love of brethren for 
those around them. Among their instruments were — to 
keep death daily before one's eyes; to keep guard at all 
times over the actions of one's life ; to know for certain 
that God sees one everywhere. When houses from end to 
end of France lived on these rules, and lived for the one 
purpose of spreading such a faith, that cohesion by degrees 
replaced in the country the original fraction of the barbarian 
mind. The Teuton did not lose his dauntless spirit; he 
kept it, but implanted on it brotherly love. Barbarism in 
the land of Arminius never entirely expunged its original 
Bin ; never to this day has become one land ; never accepted 


with full obedience, and trust the missi of Charlemagne. 
Thus its greatest race failed at last with the most utter 
ruin, and the prince of poets was constrained to say of its 
flower when beheld in Paradise itself — • 

" Quest' e la luce della gran Costanza, 
Che del secondo vento di Soave 
Geiier6 il terzo e rultima possauziu" 

— Par. iii. 118. 

But Benedict did not so fail as a third and last potentate ; 
his five hundred years, with the blessing of St. Gregory, 
generated Europe ; and the seventh century, with its num- 
berless sorrows in the eighth, could produce a patricius who 
should rescue Rome, and breed an " Augustus, crowned of 
God," to bind together barbarism and lift its leaders into 
Christian monarchy. 

And so it was that out of this long travail of three hun- 
dred years, showing no sign but of destruction and descent, 
from these undisciplined regardless raiders the forming of 
Christian nations began. In the midst of all these the See 
of Peter lived ; the bishops who had to deal during many 
generations with Christian kings in name, rulers in fact, 
often worse than heathens to their wives and children, as 
St. Gregory of Tours sadly mourns, appealed continually to 
that see as the fountain of truth for the supernatural life, 
likewise as the seat of political knowledge and Boman expe- 
rience and steadfastness in the civil domain. When Fara 
and those she fostered became nuns, when her brothers 
became monks and bishops, both learnt in the cloistered 
life, its settled habits, and obedience given to God, a temper 
and character unknown to them in their natural condition. 
By receiving the monastic they became capable of the civil 
Christian rule. The first Saxon century which I have 
been describing shows this. Oswy at the Whitby congress 
marked the transition from his first to his ultimate rule 
of action, and his thanes with him learnt the demeanour of 
Christian nobles. He took all that the monk-bishops of 
lona had brought and taught of good when he said, on 
hearing the words of Wilfrid corroborated by his own 
Bishop Colman — the Saxon king was simple and straight- 


minded — " Do both of you agree,** he said, " that these words 
were specially said to Peter, and the keys of the kingdom of 
heaven were given him by the Lord ? " They replied, " Yes, 
certainly." And he answered, "And I say unto you that 
this is that doorkeeper whom I will not contradict, but, so 
far as I have knowledge and strength, I desire in all things 
to obey his statutes." 

The whole Saxon period is summed up in these words ; 
the whole monarchy which Alfred at length ruled was the de- 
velopment of St. Gregory's Canterbury and Oswy's decision. 

The race of Clovis had not put ofiF the original turmoil 
of barbarism sufficiently to make France. They gave way 
to Mayors of the Palace who could produce a Charles Martel, 
a Pepin, and a Charlemagne, when the See of Peter had 
touched them, and out of the Church's defenders had created 
the Christian throne. The Christian throne came of that 
extreme misery in which Benedict saw the peasant crouch- 
ing before the Goth, looked upon the inti*uder, and marked 
the limit of his time and power, and when Gregory took 
upon himself on the throne of Peter the life which Benedict 
had put into tangible shape, and out of it wrought a Chris- 
tian kingdom in the land where barbarism had destroyed 
one. Thus he anticipated Mohammed's whirlwind of sensual 
force which was to sweep through the East. Having seven 
emperors in the last years of the seventh century and the 
first of the eighth, through seven revolutions all but destroys 
the Byzantine throne, until the rude hand of a soldier risen 
from the ranks terminates that convulsion at last in Leo IIL 
And he, as soon as he was well established, attempted to take 
possession of the Church of God, as he had seized on Con- 
stantine's ensanguined seat. Those years from 685 to 715 
proved that Justinian's empire could not longer nurture 
either subjects who respected lawful authority or monarchs 
who upheld Christian rula Antioch, Alexandria, and Jeru- 
salem, in their sudden fall and apostasy, showed that they 
were ripe for the sensual morals and the despotism of 
Mohammed. Against them the rule of St. Gregory, in 
the race trained and cultivated by Benedict, had formed 
an adequate and enduring rampart The Mohammedan 
flood swept without pausing from Caesarea, once and for 


centuries the Christian city of St. Basil — over the Egypt of 
the Desert Fathers, and over St. Augustine's Africa to the 
extreme west Bat the monk of Tarsus tarrying at Rome, 
and sent so wonderfully by Pope Vitalian at the request of 
King Oswy, the Bretwalda, to fill the See of Canterbury, 
had during this very time of that flood's outpouring com- 
pleted the conversion of a new race. That race had taken 
Christ for Odin, and maintained their family under the 
example of Nazareth. The Teuton as a Benedictine was 
in kept reserve against the Saracen voluptuary ; the monas- 
tery in the West, over the great realms of Gaul to its utmost 
northern limit, and Britain to Edinburgh, led the harem to 
a degenerate East and the justice of a sovereign who reigned 
at Bagdad. The two forms of life showed themselves on 
one side in Charlemagne, on the other in Uaroun Alraschid, 
while the diminished Byzantines kept half their debased 
empire between these two sovereigns utterly antagonistic. 
This momentous contrast came precisely from the hand of 
Rome, and was instant at the time of the great martyrdom 
of St. Boniface. That legate of four Popes had in the 
Pope's name crowned the new race in Pepin. Only three 
years after the new Primate of Christian Germany died a 
martyr's death. The spreading of monasteries had been 
for thirty years his special work. The monarch whom he 
crowned listened to the prayer of an exiled Pope, beat back 
the intrusive Lombard, and placed a free Pope in a free 
Rome. The very son whom that Pope had blessed as a 
youth and declared Patricius of Rome, like his father, Pepin, 
lived to complete the work of the regeneration of France, 
by subduing, after a war of thirty years, that stubborn 
Saxon power which had so long refused Christian conver- 
sion. Leo and Kopronymus, his son, after abusing to the 
utmost the imperial power, which only a new revolution, after 
many previous, had put in their hands, had to surrender the 
oppressed and mistreated Italy. The last and some of the 
most cruel and disgraceful deeds of Kopronymus were the 
calumnies with which he sought to lessen the monastic life 
among his own people. The Carlovingian race, on the con- 
trary, protected and maintained everywhere the Benedictine 
rule which had gained France. It is in these houses men 

2 A 


and women were trained in obedience as subjects, and wis- 
dom as counsellors to monarchs. The men who in their 
lives during long years carried out the seventy-two instru- 
ments of good works, when they dwelt in suflScient numbers 
throughout those sacred fortresses to form a leaven of the 
population, made that new France, and that new England, 
and that new Germany. In these Christian monarchies be- 
came possible, because they were constructed from below 
with Christian subjects. This was the outcome of three 
hundred and fifty years from St. Leo the Great to Pope 
Leo III. This is why I have said that St. Leo stood, after 
confronting and repelling Attila, in a new time, which 
received at length its coronation when the greatest man 
of the Teuton race, who mounted on his knees the steps 
of St Peter's, received also on his knees, in the greatest of 
Christian basilicas, the charge to bear the standard of Christ 
as emperor of the Bomans, to reconstruct that empire which 
a degenerate senate at the bidding of an Arian condottiere 
declared to be unnecessary, but to reconstruct it according 
to the model of Christian polity and law, which the head 
of the Christian people delivered to him. For it was the 
word of Leo III. which made Charles, "the crowned of 
God," Augustus. 

It was only fifteen years after the death of St. Leo, during 
which time Rome had been more cruelly sacked by Ricimer 
than in the same century by Alaric and by Genseric, that 
the condition of servitude was entered into under which the 
Popes laboured. I have said that in this condition of ser- 
vitude they passed through four conflicts of extraordinary 
severity and peril, and passed through with a victory due 
only to the spiritual power with which God had invested 
them as vicars of Christ. Two of these conflicts I have 
delineated at length in a former volume, only pointing to 
them briefly at present. The first of these was concen- 
trated in the Acacian Schism and the Arian predominance 
from 476 to 526. The second began immediately after on 
the exarchal viceroyalty. As to the duration of this, I 
have only traversed the first half, and the second half con- 
tains the more dangerous and extreme conflict. Herein 
the whole power and enmity of the Byzantine ruler is twice 


exerted against the See of Peter. Jastinian breated for his 
bishop a patriarchal throne instead of that bishopric of the 
royal residence which alone Pope Gelasius allowed, while he 
asserted the original Petrine triad of Eome, Alexandria, and 
Antioch to be alone in possession of patriarchal thrones. 
Justinian passed, and another of the many changes on that 
throne, as dangerous to monarchs as corrupting to bishops, 
ensued. Heraclius was called from the West to dethrone 
the monster Phocas, and, having accomplished it, prepared 
a race as tyrannical. His grandson Constans was able to 
filch a Pope from the Lateran church itself, judge him by 
the senate of Constantinople, and cause him to perish of 
hunger in the Crimea. It was this race of Heraclius which 
for forty-six years, from 636 to 680, strove to impose their 
Monothelite heresy on the Popes, and, if the Popes had 
yielded, upon the whole Church. It was the position of 
the Popes as subjects in a garrisoned provincial city which 
enabled Byzantine rulers to inflict on them this trial. And 
if the civil subjection had carried with it the spiritual supre- 
macy, if one of the ten Popes immediately succeeding Pope 
Honorius had yielded or flinched, when four patriarchs of 
Constantinople enabled those emperors to do their work by 
supplying their false doctrine with language adequate to 
express it, Byzantium would have accomplished the destruc- 
tion of the Christian name and faith. But the Popes won 
this third battle, and not one of them failed. And in that 
third battle was contained also the Saracenic life ; the harem 
fought the monastery. And this side of the conflict touched 
England most sensibly. The second Justinian attacked not 
only the doctrine of St. Leo, which the Pope defended and 
maintained, not only the authority which all the East had 
acknowledged when it set its hand to the statement as a 
formulary of communion, that " in the Apostolic See the 
solidity of the Christian religion rests entire and perfect." 
Justinian II. aimed to make the Pope one of his five patri- 
archs, and wished him to sign his name as such after the 
emperor s, confirming a council, when his own father had 
expressly attributed that power of confirmation to the Pope 
alone. But one thing more that same Justinian II. at- 
tempted. He strove to make the clergy rescind their 


perpetual discipline down to that time of an unmarried 
celibate priesthood. The great Pope Sergias refused both 
one attempt and the other. It was to this Pope Sergiua 
that the Anglo-Saxon kings came in pilgrimage. It was 
by this Pope Sergius that the Anglo-Saxon Church, as a 
province of the whole Western Church, carried on their 
original discipline, and did not allow the presence of a 
woman in a mass-priest's house. It was this Pope Sergias 
who, in thus acting, maintained the conversion of England 
as wrought by monks and nuna 

When, then, the Saracens had not only conquered the 
three Eastern patriarchs, and made the whole former Boman 
territory to the straits of Gibraltar their own, but also 
crossed over to Spain and vanquished the Christian govern- 
ment of the land, upon the Monothelite contest of dogma 
was jointed also the question whether the Christian or the 
Saracenic life should prevail. From the time of Mohammed's 
presumed prophetic call in 622, the era of his religion, the 
moral life which he had himself preached and practised 
worked for mastery. He largely imposed it on the East; 
he strove to make it prevail in the West. At the time of 
the martyrdom of St. Boniface in 755, St. Benedict's rule 
had obtained that it should not prevail in the West, and 
the vast multitude of Christian houses had gained the vic- 
tory which St. Gregory's mission of Augustine had heralded. 
The Virgin Son of the Virgin Mother triumphed in the life 
which He had Himself instituted upon earth. That is the 
second victory by which the Popes made Christendom ; their 
example, their precept, and their rule had, out of the Teu- 
tonic ancestral tradition, the rude but valiant mass which 
had known only Irminsoul, drawn the men with whom 
Godfrey won back Jerusalem, the women whose first-fruit 
was Etheldreda, whose perfect form was St. Teresa. 

But the fourth battle of the captive Popes, the Popes who 
died as St. Martin or resisted as St. Sergius, remains to be 
mentioned. The Sixth Council, confirmed by St. Leo II. in 
682, with an Eastern emperor and his patriarch who were 
both orthodox, seemed to have put down the Monothelite 
hereqr as well as the imperial tyranny. Both arose again. 
ble contest in religion and in civil life reappeared. 


and that for the loag. .period of fifty yearsL The eighth 
century began with each Christian discomfiture that the 
southern shore of the Midland Sea had become Moham- 
medan instead of Christian, and that the emperor in Con- 
stantine's city, instead of guarding the See of Peter, called 
Pope Constantino to visit it with the view of subjecting 
him. The time of the utmost trial had arrived : an Eastern 
revolution had sent to Rome the head of the tyrant Jus- 
tinian IL, and had lifted to its throne a race of despots 
more savage and erring than he had been, who was the 
great-great-grandson and the worst ofispring of Heraclius. 
The emperor Leo IIL complicated his struggle with the 
Saracen by attempting to add to his imperilled crown the 
government and to control the doctrine of the Christian 
Church. Then God raised up to His Church at the utmost 
need three Popes of extraordinary wisdom, resolution, and 
fortitude, the second and the third Gregory, and Zacharias. 
No contest can be imagined more unequal than that which 
the emperor Leo III., holding all military power among 
Christians in his hand, forced in the year 726 on Pope 
Gregory II. That contest, in all its double civil and reli- 
gious aspect, lasted fifty years, from 726 to TT6. Leo IIL 
seized in all his empire the patrimonies with which St 
Gregory the Great, and so many Popes succeeding him, 
had fed a desolated Rome. By his sole ipse dixit he severed 
ten provinces from their original attachment to the See of 
the Western patriarch, and added them to the patriarchate 
of his own bishop. Further, he sent a fleet and army which 
tried to destroy Ravenna, and issued his command to cap- 
ture Rome and carry away the Pope. During twenty years 
three Popes preserved Italian allegiance to him and to his 
son. At last Pope Zacharias sanctioned the Mayor of the 
Palace to assume the name as well as to hold the power 
of the king of the Franks, and the mandate of the new 
king rescued Pope Stephen from vassalage to a Lombard 
Aistulph, and the See of St. Peter from an emperor 
Kopronymus, and broke for ever the exarchal viceroyalty. 
Byzantium forfeited the Italy on which she had so trampled 
for two hundred years, and her emperor ceased to wear that 
Western crown which, from the fatal era of 476, he had 


so abased. The Iconoclast contest, like the Monothelite, 
was at once of dogma against heresy and of right against 
tyranny. By it the mission which the great heart of St. 
Gregory had devised met with its fall accomplishment. 
The Christian faith and the Christian life snrvived together 
in the Benedictine discipline, which closed at length the 
destmction of 350 years. And the work of St. Leo the 
Great, who repulsed Attila, was completed in his successor, 
St. Leo III., who crowned Charlemagne; and that clear 
assertion of the Divine Incarnation which the great letter 
of the former had set forth was established by the latter to 
be the heart and centre of the Christendom which bis coro- 
nation of the great Western champion secared against the 
insurgent Mohammedan imposture of doctrine and degra- 
dation of morality. 

Thus the new era, which the first Leo began in weakness 
and sorrow, which continued during 350 years of terrible 
destruction, an era without its equal in the convulsions 
brought upon civilised life, had a termination in the third 
Leo. From his act, which a Pope alone could execute, 
<iate five hundred years in which a new Enrope, resting on 
the joint labour and union of religious and civil chieftains, 
sprung up, and was exhibited in a series of Catholic nations. 
Of these, St Peter's See, as it had been the creator, so it was 
the guide and crown. No symbol of it, as regards at least 
its secular idea, could be more telling than when the figure 
of the great emperor, without in his imperial robes, and 
within them in his garb of sackcloth, was discovered sitting 
on his throne in the vault of his cathedral at Aix-la- 
Chapelle. Five hundred years of growth and decision 
which followed that wonderful act of Leo IIL were followed 
by a second five hundred years, which have tried to impair, 
and even to dissolve, the union of civil government and of 
spiritual belief, and the world trembles at the thought that 
a convulsion may be in store for unbelief which may recall, 
or even surpass, that which attended the breaking up of 
the great empire. 

Three lines of temporal government came into clear light 
by the act of St. Leo III. The first was that accomplished 
by the Christian Church, which created in Charlemagne a 


monarch on Christian principles, not a monarch of the 
Augustan line, ruling simply by strength of arm, and weld- 
ing separate and rival nations together, as from Augustus 
to the great Theodosius, by superior discipline, equal law, 
and conquering arms, but a monarch who received the code 
of law so perfected, and the canons of the Church meet- 
ing every need of Christian life, from the hand of the Vicar 
of Christ, a monarch who both kept the Pope's faith and 
guaranteed his throne. 

Over against him stood a monarch who ruled with abso- 
lute power as the heir and successor of a pretended prophet, 
whose realm had been constructed entirely on that pretence, 
who ruled because an angel had falsely been supposed to 
order him to take for his own a son-in-law's wife, and to 
take, not for wives, any captive in war who fell into his 
hands. Haroun Alraschid at Bagdad is the living example 
in the presence of Charlemagne of such a ruler, and his 
dealing with a trusted vizier the measure of his justice, 
and of the justice shown in the thousand years of the rule 
which succeeded him. 

The third line of government which dated from that act 
of Leo III. is that sovereign of Constantine's Byzantine 
succession which, with divided and decimated empire, lived 
on yet for 650 years. They claimed to be Roman, but 
had nothing Roman save the pretension of the Roman 
eagle worked on the purple buskins decorating the feet of 
despotic power. The Christian faith which Constantine 
had found and respected, they had from the time of the 
Acacian Schism tampered with and strove to dominate. 
The boldness with which the emperor Leo IIL had done 
this resulted in the loss of Italy and the deliverance of the 
Pope from civil tyranny. And the subsequent six centuries 
ended in a still greater overthrow, when the matchless city, 
which had so long resisted the Mohammedan assault, 
yielded at last, and became the prey of the government 
which had succeeded to the throne set np at Bagdad, and 
the principles of misgovernment and unbelief which have 
been its unfailing inheritance. 


Agatho I., Pope, hears in council the 
appeal of St. Wilfrid, 274 ; decrees 
that he is Bishop of York, 275 ; 
requests Wilfrid to sit in his council 
at Rome, 275 ; grants him privi- 
leges for the monasteries of Ely 
and Peterborough, 277. 

Aidan, the monk-bishop, sent from 
lona, his daily work, 226 ; held the 
See of North umbria sixteen years, 
230 ; his character by Bede, 230 ; 
was the soul of Oswald's govern- 
ment from 635 to 642, 255. 

Ambrose, St., his description of his 
sister's profession as a nun to Pope 
Liberius in St. Peter's, 83-85. 

Antony, St., his life in the Desert of 
Egypt to his 105th year, described 
in detail by St. Athanasius in the 
year 365, 4-53. 

Athanasius, St., publishes his Life of 
St. Antony, 55 ; is long with Pope 
Julius I. in refuge at Rome, 55 ; 
great efifect of his Life of St. 
Antony, 57 ; bearing of his Life on 
the first appearance of the monks, 


Augustine, St., his testimony to the 
anchorites and coenobites of his 
day, 60-63 ; as a priest he seta up 
a monastic house, 63 ; as a bishop, 
one of his own clergy, 64. 

Augustine, St., a monk who came in 
the name of Rome, 347 ; the in- 
cidents of his conversion, 1 93-198 ; 
its character, 206. 

Basil, St., his account of the efifects 
of the monks on himself, 66; his 
monastic life in Pontus, 67 ; his 
picture of monastic discipline, 67- 

70 ; what a monk's demeanour 
should be, 70-73 ; his encounter 
with the apostate Julian, 73. 

Bede, St., his birth, labours, and 
life, 212-213; ^>" 1^^ ^<^Jf 211- 
212 ; Burke's estimate of him, 213 ; 
value of his History, 2 1 5-2 1 6 ; no 
such history of any other single 
nation existing, 221 ; his history 
of the five abbots, 280-285. 

Biscop, St. Bennet, his life told by 
St Bede, 280-285. 

Boniface, St, his first appearance 
before Pope Gregory IL, 305 ; who 
gives him a mission to convert 
Grermans, 306-307 ; learns at Rome 
to be fortified by the Pope's word, 
307 ; visits again Archbishop Willi- 
brord at Utrecht, 308 ; visits Thur- 
ingia and Hesse, 308 ; consecrated 
a regionary bishop by Gregory II., 
308-309; binds himself to the 
Pope by oath, 309 ; carries six 
letters of the Pope to Germany, 
31 1 ; these letters, in A.D. 723, give 
him full authority in Germany, 

314 ; is received by Charles Mar- 
tell, 315 ; cuts down Thor's oak, 

315 ; derives great help from monks 
and nuns in England, 316-317 ; 
becomes legate of Pope Gregory 
III., who bestows the pallium on 
him in a.d. 732, 319 ; establishes 
bishops in France and Germany 
under Pope Zacharias, 321 ; holds 
councils with the Duke Carlomann, 
322 ; restores the Church in the 
French provinces with him and his 
brother Pepin, 323 ; receives Mainz 
as seat of his dignity as Metro- 
politan, 326; his devotion to the 




monastic order in both sexes, 327 ; 
his letter to Cuthbert, Archbishop 
of Canterbury, 328 ; which pro- 
duces the Council of Cloveshoe, 
328-329 ; his own great Council at 
Mainz, orders the Church of that 
day, 329 ; applies to King Pepin 
for his Anglo-Saxon fellow- workerf, 
330 ; whom he had consecrated as 
king in a.d. 752, 327 ; resigns his 
archbiKhopric to Lull, 331 ; de- 
scends the Rhine, and is martyred 
on its banks, with all the Anglo- 
Saxuns in his train, 332. 

Boniface V., Pope, his letter to King 
Edwin, 218 ; and to Queen Ethel- 
burga, 219. 

BosMuet, what he says of the rule of 
St. Benedict, 132. 

Burke, the state of Saxon Britain the 
worst of all, 204 ; his praise of St. 
Bede, 21 3 ; religion everywhere 
began to relish of the cloister, 287 ; 
kings going on pilgrimage to Rome 
or Jerusalem, 287 ; the great ex- 
tent of the monastic institutions, 
2S7 ; without monasteries there 
would have been neither learning, 
arts, nor science, 287 ; in such a 
case miracles may have been given 
for an end so worthy as the intro- 
duction of Christianity, 287. 

Cass IAN, St., his great house at 
. Marseilles, his life, 102. 
Ciesarius, St., Archbishop of Aries, 
loi ; his rule for the monastic life, 


Christ and Odin in presence before 
Ethelbert, 341-342; and before 
Edwin, 344 ; and before Oswald and 
Oswin, 344 ; and in the whole mon- 
astic mission sent by Gregory, 347. 

Chrysostom, St., his comparison of 
royal power with the life of the 
monk, 77-83. 

Cloveshoe, Council of, called by Cuth- 
bert, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
A.D. 747, attended by the king of 
Mercia, his thanes, and all the 
bishops of England, 328. 

Columban, St, his life and laboara, 

Colman, third monk-bishop, answers 

for lona at Whitby in 664, 235; 

rules during three years, and retires 

after Oswy's decision, 236-237. 

Eanfleda, the queen, sammary of 
her acts as wife, mother, queen, 
and nun, 254-257. 

Ebba, St, royal abbess, sister of two 
kings, 260. 

Edwin, king and martyr, seeks alli- 
ance with the king of Kent, 218 ; 
is saved from an assassin and has 
his child baptized, 219 ; is con- 
verted by Paulinus, 220 ; is con- 
verted with his Witan, 222 ; 
receives letters from Pope Boni- 
face v., 219, and Pope Honorius, 
222 ; dies in battle after six years* 
championship of the Church, a 
martyr, 224. 

Elfleda, daughter of Oswj and Ean- 
fleda, dedicated by her father at 
her birth, 267 ; second Abbess of 
Whitby for thirty-five years, abbess 
and princess, 267. 

Ercombert, king of Kent, grandson 
of St Ethelbert most zealous in 
destruction of idolatry, husband of 
Sexburga, father of Ermelinda, 
Abbess of Ely, and of Earcongotha, 
I Abbess of Faremoutier, 280. 
I Ermelinda, queen of Mercia, succeeds 
her mother as third Abbess of 
Kly, 269. 

Ethelreda, St, Queen of Northum- 
bria, foundress and abbess of Ely, 
268 ; sanctioned' by St Wilfrid to 
become a nun, 271 ; her history, 
and disinterment incorrupt, 277- 
280 ; her name melted to Audrey, a 
household name to English women 
for eight hundred years, 20a 

Eugenius I., Pope, blesses St. Wilfrid 
at his first coming to Rome, 240. 

FiNAN, second monk-bishop, preaches 
in Northumbria ten years from 
652, 233. 



Gregort of Xazianzen, St, united 
with Basil in his life as a monk, 
74 ; terms the life of St. Antony 
by Athanasius & code of the mon- 
astic life in the form of a narra- 
tive, 56. 

Gregory of Nyssa, St, on virginity 
as the perfection of the incorporeal 
nature, 74-76. 

Gregory the Great, his birth about 
540, 191 ; accepts the rule of St 
Benedict and watches over its ex- 
tension, 191 ; the sole promoter of 
England's conversion, 192 ; en- 
joins St. Augustine and his monks 
to persevere, 193 ; commends them 
to the bishops and the queen in 
France, 194 ; they go in his name 
before King Ethelbert, 194 ; Ethel- 
bert receives the Christian faith as 
sent by Gregory, 195; Gregory 
orders Augustine to be consecrated 
bishop at Aries, 196; orders the 
Bishops of London and York to 
receive the pallium, and each to 
preside over twelve bishops, 197 ; 
gives Augustine no authority over 
bishops of Gaul, but commits all 
English bishops to him, 19S ; re- 
cords the conversion at the first 
Christmas of io,oco Angles, 198 ; 
himself attests the mission from 
Rome as sent by him, 199 ; the 
nine Christian centuries of England 
date from him, 2cx>; in his letter 
to Mellitus directs old temples to be 
reconsecrated, 20 1 ; orders bishops 
to live with their clergy as monks, 
202 ; is made by St. Bede '* to 
hold the first pontificate in the 
whole world," and the English to 
be ** the seal of his apostolate," 20S ; 
his appointment of the primacy in 
Canterbury is established in St 
Theodore, 212. 

Gregory II., Pope, St., his mission 
of St. Boniface, 306; changes his 
name and consecrates him region- 
ary bishop, 308-309; gives him 
letters for Germany, 311-314. 

Gregory III., Pope, St, gives St 

Boniface the pallium, 318; makes 
him his legate, 319. 
Guizot, three Teutonic peoples occupy- 
ing Gaul, Burgundians, Visigoths, 
and Franks, 137 ; nature of the 
Teutonic invasions, 137-140 ; merit 
of the Franks in stopping fresh in- 
undations of barbarians, 140 ; two 
hundred and fifty years of Mero- 
vingian rule had not made a State 
in Gaul, 148; its unsettled and 
shifting kingdoms, 149 ; a picture 
of the Church's unity and the con- 
fusion of human things, 1 51-154; 
how the six Councils of the Church 
give one legislation which the 
empire can no longer give, 153- 


Hertford, Council of, the first, 249 ; 

its canons, 250-252. 
Hilarion, St, his life and following 

of Antony, 95. 
Hilda, the royal abbess, her life, 262- 

Honorius I., Pope, letter to King 

Edwin as a Catholic, 222 ; grants 

to him the pallium for York, 223 ; 

grants that the head of English 

peoples be for ever in Canterbury, 


Jerome, St, his commendation of 
Pammachius as a convert monk, 

Lerin, the rise and effect of its mon- 
astery, 99-101. 

Leo, St Leo the Great, the world 
which he saved from Attila, 333 ; 
the Council whose doctrinal de- 
crees he confirmed, 333 ; the whole 
episcopate naming him as ''in- 
trusted with the Vine by the 
Saviour Himself," 334 ; preserves 
Rome a second time from Genseric, 
334 ; causes it to exist during 300 
years as the See of St Peter's 
Primacy, 335 ; which is completed 
at the end of 350 years by his 
successor, St Leo III., 372-374. 



Leo IIL, Pope, St, the thousand 
years and the three monarchies 
which date from his act, 374-375. 

Liberius, Pope, his spotless character 
attested by St. Basil, St. Ambrose, 
St. Epiphanios, and Pope Siridus, 


Lingard, Anglo-Saxons, the eight 
English kings pilgrims to Rome, 
119; Saxon valae of the life of 
chastity, 2cx> ; condition of the 
Saxons in England in their heathen 
state, 204 ; discipline of the Anglo- 
Saxon Church, 207, 208 ; the arch- 
bishop the connecting link with the 
Pope, 209; change in the mon- 
astic discipline from the Desert to 
the Anglo-Saxons 226 ; what he 
thought of Bede's history, 215 ; 
cathedrals preserving their mon- 
astic character, 286; the gradual 
growth uf mass- priests in district 
churches, holding under the bishops, 
not under monasteries, 295-296 ; a 
deacon and two clerics attend on 
each mass-priest, 296 ; strictly con- 
fined to continency, 297 ; the mar- 
riage of priests never approved by 
Saxon bishops down to the Danish 
inroads, 298 ; no marriage of bishop, 
priest, monk, or deacon allowed, 
298 ; quotes the Emperors Theo- 
dosius I. and Justinian I. as main- 
taining this law, 302. 

Martin, St, of Tours, his devotion to 
a monk's life, 85 ; founds monas- 
teries at Ligugd and at Marmou- 
tier, 87 ; his ascetic life described 
by his pupil Sulpicius Severus, 


Mohler, his "Monckthum" quoted, 
85, 104, 106 ; his judgment of the 
Life of Antony by Athanasius, 57. 

Montalembert, names given by the 
monks to their monasteries, 157; 
Merovingian munificence and 
wickedness, 143. 

Oswald, king and martyr, plants a 
great cross and wins a kingdom. 

225 ; asks for a bishop from lona, 
and receives Aidan at Lindisfame, 
225, 226 ; rules over four langnagea. 
226 ; bestows alms profusely, 227 ; 
prays in the act of dying in battle, 
and is held a martyr, 228. 

Oswin, king.and martyr, assists Bishop 
Aidan in his preaching, 228 ; be- 
stows his own horse on him, 229 ; 
is murdered by his rival Oswy, 
230; and is esteemed a martyr, 

Oswy, king and Bretwalda, espouses 
Eanfleda, 231 ; reigns with her 
twenty -eight years, from 642 to 
670, 231 ; gains a great victory over 
Penda, and dedicates his infant 
daughter for a nun, 232 ; calls the 
Congress of Whitby, 234-237, and 
accepts the authority of St. Peter 
as decisive, 236 ; makes Ceadda 
Bishop of York, 242 ; acknowledges 
the Roman to be the Catholic 
Church, 242 ; applies to Pope Vita- 
lian to find and send an archbishop 
to Canterbury, 243 ; receives St 
Theodore as archbishop from him, 
246, and at his appointment St 
Wilfrid as Bishop of Northumbria, 
246 ; beseeches St. Wilfrid to con- 
duct him to Rome, but dies before, 
246, 247 ; is drawn throughout his 
reign by his queen, Eanfleda, to 
the Catholic Church, 256. 

Pachomius founds the first monastery 
at Tabennse, on the Nile, about 
325, I ; another for his sister, 2, 
who is said to have had four hun- 
dred nuns in it, 87. V 

Patrick, St., nature of his conversion 
of Ireland, 203 : its chief incidents 
and its time, i8i-2cx>. 

Paulinus, St., converts King Edwin, 
220, by whom his preaching dur- 
ing six years is encouraged, 222 ; 
receives as Bishop of York the 
pallium from Pope Honorius, 223 ; 
retires with Queen Ethelburga and 
her daughter Eanfleda to Kent, 



Kadrgonde, queen and saint, her 
bintory, 144-145; during forty 
years nun at the Holy Cross of 
Poitiers, 145 ; tries to tame the 
Merovingian princes, 146 ; her 
burial by St Gregory of Tours, 
147 ; follows in her enclosure the 
rule of St. Caesarius at Aries, 147 ; 
her life a mixture of saints and 
mounters, among whom she is the 
most austere of penitents and most 
charitable of saints, 14S. 

Sebgius I., Pope, a monk of Palermo^ 
maintains the law of celibacy in 
the West against the Trullan in- 
novations of Justinian II., 302 ; 
receives the pilj^riwage of King 
Cadwalla to Rome, and confirms 
Archbishop Beretwald at Canter- 
bury, 303 ; consecrates Archbishop 
Willibrurd in 696 at Rome, 304 ; 
preserves the discipline of the 
Anglo • Saxon province of the 
Church, and of the whole Church, 

Sexburga, wife of King Ercombert, 

then successor of her sister, and 

second Abbess of Ely, 280. 

Theodore, St., a monk of Tarsus, 
stopping at Rome, selected by Pope 
Vitalian, consecrated and sent as 
Archbishop of Canterbury, 244 ; 
received in a.d. 669, makes visita- 
tion of the whole island, • 245 ; 
ordains bishops in their proper 
places, 246 ; holds the first Council, 
250 ; summary of his acts, 252- 
253, 267. 

Vita Communis, what it is, 174 ; com- 
pared with marriage, 175 ; makes 
the supernatural home, 1 76; in- 
strument to overcome barbarism, 
177 ; acceptance by the Teutonic 
race makes France, 1 78 ; its efifect 
in making a Christian Europe, 
351 ; its diffusion during the con- 
tinuance of the Roman Empire, 351 ; 
its advance in the seventh century. 

352-353 ; its part in national con- 
versions, Irish and English, 354 ; 
the life of Benedict an utter an- 
tagonism to the life of Mohammed, 
357 ; the monastery substitutes the 
free labour of monks and nuns 
for the servile labour of liberti 
and libertimE, 365 ; monastic cohe- 
sion overcame barbarism, 366 ; the 
mortal duel of 1300 years lies be- 
tween the harem and the monas- 
tery* 357. 364* 369. 371, 372. 
Vitalian, Pope, his letter to King 
Oswy, 242 ; chooses an archbishop 
of Canterbury, 244 ; selects Theo- 
dorus, a monk of Tarsus, conse- 
crates him, and sends him to 
England, 244 ; assigns him as col- 
league Abbot Adrian, and also 
Bennet Biscop, 282. 

Weebubga, daughter of Ermelinda, 
fourth Abbess of Ely, fourth in 
descent from Ethelbert, 280. 

Wilfrid, St, bom in 634, of the 
highest Northumbrian nobility, 
237 ; obtains at thirteen his father's 
consent to take the monastic life, 
237 ; is sent by Queen Eanfleda to 
Lindisfame Abbey, 238 ; obtains 
from her to be sent through King 
Ercombert to Rome, 239 ; goes 
with St Bennet Biscop to the Arch- 
bishop of Lyons, 239 ; visits Rome 
and is presented to the Pope, 239 ; 
wishes to suffer martyrdom with 
the Archbishop of Lyons, 240 ; is 
made abbot at Ripon, establish- 
ing a Benedictine house, 241 ; is 
appointed at Whitby Congress to 
conduct the Roman cause, 235 ; 
King Oswy yields to his exposition 
of St Peter's authority, 236; is 
ordained Bishop of Northumbria, 
242 ; and so rules the whole mon- 
archy of King Oswy, 246 ; rever- 
enced by King Egbert and his 
queen, Etbeldreda, 248 ; is sum- 
moned by St Theodore to the 
first Council at Hertford, 249 ; is 
given by Queen Etheldreda her 


dower land at Hexham, 268 ; sanc- 
tions her becoming a nun, and 
abbess at Ely, 271 ; Wilfrid sup- 
plies a complete education in his 
monasteries, 272 ; is deposed from 
his diocese in 679, and appeals to 
Pope Agatho, 272 ; preaches in 
Frisia, 261 ; is restored by Pope 
Agatho as Bishop of York on 
appeal, 275 ; sits among the bishops 
at Rome and attests the faith of 
Britain and Ireland, 276 ; when 
banished from York, he oonverts 
Sussex, 294 ; his forty-five years 
of episcopate unsurpassed in lustre, 

Willibrord, St., a foster-child of St. 
Wilfrid at Ripon, 303 ; consecrated 

by Pope Sergios in 696, for fifty 
years Archbishop of Utrecht, 304 ; 
baptizes in 714 Pepin, son of 
Charles Martell, who was crowned 
king of France in 752, 304 ; the 
link between St Wilfrid and St. 
Boniface, 304. 

Zacharias, Pope, St., letter to him 
of St. Boniface, as his legate, 321 ; 
he confirms the bishops Appointed 
by St. Boniface, 322-; answers the 
questions propoimded to him by 
Pepin, Mayor of the Palace, 323 ; 
appoints Mainz to be the seat of 
the German Primate, 326 ; autho- 
rises Pepin to become king of the 
Franks, 327. 


Printed by Ballantyne, HANSON & Co. 
Edinburgh and London 



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taken from the Buadia^ 

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